Commerce City, Colo. – Conor Casey worked out with teammates Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz, and Omar Cummings in the weight room at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately for Casey, and the team, it’s as close as he’ll get to participating with his teammates when the Rapids host Columbus on Thursday in the MLS Cup Playoff Wild Card game (8 PM MT).
“It sucks,” Casey told ColoradoRapids.com about watching the playoffs “This is the part of the year where you want to be around the most. It’s great that we’ve achieved and gotten in the playoff, and we have as good a chance as anybody right now. But if you’re sitting watching, you’d much rather be out there playing.”
Casey scored six goals in 11 starts this year before suffering a season-ending torn left Achilles tendon against Seattle in July. He had surgery shortly after and had been on crutches until three weeks ago. He’s now walking around without any noticeable limp.
“It definitely feels good,” he said of his injured leg. “I have no pain and I'm walking around fine. The long rehab process starts now.”
The next step in his recovery is strengthening his foot and calf muscles so he’s more stable walking around, and then to work on his balance.
The team’s all-time leading goal scorer with 48 regular season goals was also a difference maker in the 2010 title run. He scored the tying goal at Columbus with only six minutes left in the Eastern Conference Semifinal series, which the Rapids won on penalty kicks. And, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the MLS Cup final after he once again scored the game-tying goal and then provided the long pass that set up Mac Kandji’s shot that lifted the club past Dallas for their first championship.
He knows he can’t help his team on the field this year, but he’s accepting the role of cheerleader.
“I’m kind of trying not to think about it and just support the guys,” he said. “We have a great opportunity playing at home against Columbus. We beat them last year and hopefully we take that momentum with us this year.”