Was there any doubt? The club’s all-time leading goalscorer is the final, fitting, piece to the best lineup in Rapids history.
Conor Casey’s storied career covered the globe, but his six-season stop leading the line in Colorado was an important chapter for him and the club.
Casey went to high school in Denver and after representing the USA in the 2000 Olympics, he signed his first professional contract in Germany with powerhouse Borussia Dortmund. It wasn’t until 2007 when Casey found himself back home in Colorado, ultimately playing 119 games for the Rapids.
In 2008, Casey began his tear in MLS. He scored 11 goals and added two assists in just 21 games as the Rapids narrowly missed the playoffs. In 2009, Casey had his banner year, statistically, for the club, scoring 16 goals to finish second in MLS behind Jeff Cunningham. He was named to the MLS Best XI that season, as the Rapids narrowly missed the playoffs again. In total, he scored 50 goals for the Rapids, a number that still stands as the most for the club.
The 2010 season needs little explanation for Rapids fans, but Casey was the force leading the line for the Cup-winning squad that year, scoring 13 goals. In that memorable playoff run, he scored two of the most important goals in Rapids history.
The first one came in the 84th minute against the Columbus Crew on November 6, 2010. His incredible goal-scoring instincts around the box pounced, and, when the ball hit the back of the net, it was enough for the Rapids to force extra time in Ohio. Casey would eventually go on to score his penalty in the shootout, and the Rapids advanced to the Conference Finals.
The second goal during that 2010 run took place early in the second half of the MLS Cup Final against FC Dallas. The Rapids trailed 1-0, but Casey found enough space and time to slot home a ball nearly from the seat of his pants to level the game - cool, calm, collected and always finding a way to get his name on the scoresheet. Casey was named the MLS Cup Final MVP following the win, and his legacy was cemented in Colorado.
Casey’s game was built on his ability to wear opponents down with his sheer physical stature. He was nearly impossible to beat in the air, and good luck getting the ball off him if he were holding up play. Sure, he was clinical in front goal and off set pieces, but it was his knowledge and instinct for the game, his understanding of how to play with his teammates, and his underrated passing ability that made him a world-class forward. His low-key demeanor on and off the field also made him the ultimate teammate and competitor. The moment was never too big, and he never appeared flustered.
As Casey’s playing career came to an end, he found himself in the coaching ranks and served as an assistant under his Rapids teammate Pablo Mastroeni in 2017 and then under Anthony Hudson in 2018 and 2019. He took over the head coaching duties for the Rapids on an interim basis in 2019 leading the club to an 7-5-7 record.
In the end, Casey made 313 appearances for his clubs over the years and had 19 caps, scoring twice, for the senior US men’s national team.
Looking back on different careers for different players, Casey’s stands out among his peers - local high school star makes it all the way to the Olympics and then to the famed Bundesliga. To continue that incredible arc, he eventually returned home to bring an MLS Cup trophy to the Mile-High City. There aren’t many careers out there that were as well rounded but there weren’t many players like Casey so it’s fitting that his name appears as the lead forward for the Rapids All-Time Best XI.