For the Union’s Conor Casey, throw away the 56 games, 88 points, 22 wins and 18 goals that he’s tallied during his two-year career with the team. With training camp underway for the 2015 season, the veteran has just one thing on his mind when the regular season begins in March.
“The playoffs,” Casey said. “We haven’t made them since I’ve been here. As a forward you always think about the points that you missed and not the ones you put in so I want to score as many goals as I possibly can. Thinking about the past two seasons, a goal here or there would’ve clinched a playoff spot for us and I’m hoping to erase those memories this year. With this group of guys, we expect to be there.”
Casey, 33, inked a one-year deal with the team just before training camp began last week. He’s been one of the Union’s most reliable forwards offensively in his time with the organization. His 18 goals ranks third on the team’s all-timescoring list. His 68 career goals in the MLS ranks 23rdall-time and places him sixth among active players.
“I wanted to finish business,” said Casey, about deciding to come back. “We came up short the past two years and I feel like last season in the second half of the season we played some really good games together. We just barely came up short, but now we’ll have the chance to play a full season with pretty much the same roster and I’m expecting a different story.”
Casey started in 18 games last season for the Union. With the additions of forwards C.J. Sapong and Dzenan Catic in the offseason, it’s unknown what his role will become. He’s still training to play 90 minutes, but he’s well aware of how much talent the team now has at the forward positions.
“It’s great to add depth and competition to the roster,” Casey said. “I think [this group] has the potential to be the best I’ve played with. We’ve had Sebastien [Le Toux] and myself here for a bit and Andrew [Wenger] came in last year and was able to make an impact. It’s a long season, so to have a handful of guys now who are potentially starters in this league up top is great. We’ll be pushing each other the whole way and making each other better. A lot of guys will have the chance to play and contribute.”
The team is focused on starting the season off strong. In the past two seasons they’ve gone 3-4-2 in the month of March, which to Casey isn’t good enough for a team trying to reach the playoffs.
“We started off the season a bit slow the past two years, which really put us in a tough position with the season we had left,” Casey said. “We really had to scramble for points the rest of the way to get back into things. That’s something that we’re aware of and we want to be sure we can come in and not leave ourselves too big of a gap this year.”
The Union begin preseason play on February 7 against the Jacksonville Armada. The regular season begins March 7 against the Colorado Rapids.