Over his nine years in MLS, Conor Casey has established himself as one of the top goal scorers in the League. With 71 regular-season tallies, the forward ranks sixth among all active players. At 6-foot-1, Crew SC’s newest signing is a handful. Just ask some of the defenders who have had to play against him.
“He’s always a handful,” Crew SC defender Tyson Wahl says. “He’s threatening in the box, that’s where he does his damage, that’s where he’s made his career. He’s a handful on crosses, getting shots off.”
Having a target man of Casey’s presence is beneficial for a number of reasons.
“He’s a guy that holds the ball really well. That helps in transition, having a big target such as Conor,” Crew SC defender Corey Ashe says. “More importantly, he scores goals. The guy finds ways to show up in the box and he scores important goals.”
But it’s not just Casey’s knack for scoring goals that makes him so threatening, Ashe says.
“He always knows where the defenders are, and the way he positions himself to receive the ball,” he explains. “But not only that, what he does after he passes the ball, he’s a guy that is active. One minute he’s in front of you and the next minute he’s making a run either near post or far post trying to score goals.”
Wahl, who has played with Casey for the Colorado Rapids, says the striker is a perfect fit for Crew SC.
“All teams ask their forwards to be dangerous in the box, but specifically for a team that plays with one forward it’s very important that that player is effective in the box, and Conor is definitely that.”
In addition to his effectiveness in the box, Casey is also an excellent passer who creates opportunities for his teammates.
“I think that’s an underrated attribute of his,” Wahl says. “I think he brings a lot of players into the game and his hold-up play is also really effective. That’s another thing Gregg is asking of our forwards, to bring our midfielders into the game. He’s good at linking up with guys.”
With 191 MLS matches, 93 appearances in the German Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, as well as 19 caps for the United States, Casey is an experienced professional. The 34-year-old helped the Rapids win the MLS Cup in 2010, when he scored the game-tying goal in the 57th minute against FC Dallas. He was named MLS Cup MVP following the match and has also received MLS Best XI and All-Star honors.
“Just to have another physical and I guess veteran presence is great, and it’s great for the young players [especially],” Ashe says. “It’s all about leadership. You set the examples and it gives the rest of the team an idea what to strive for.”
Wahl believes that Casey will have an impact both on and off the field.
“I’ve already seem him interact with a lot of the rookies and he’s definitely a presence and I think that’s good for our locker room,” he says.
“Our core group is relatively young and I think it’s great to have another successful MLS veteran with the group. I think it’ll maybe bring a calming presence at different times of the year and it will definitely be a positive influence throughout the season.”