Casey, Cummings making a difference for Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Conor Casey is a classic target forward, able to hold the ball up well for his teammates and a dangerous aerial presence in the opposition penalty box. Omar Cummings is a speed merchant who likes to toy with defenses and unleash spectacular shots from distance.

Cummings wears fancy cleats (yellow ones for the playoffs), but Casey favors more standard white boots. Casey tends to argue vociferously with referees, while Cummings often seems to let poor decisions against him go with a shrug of the shoulders.

The two Colorado strikers, who have scored 27 goals between them this season, are very different in their approach to soccer, but their understanding of each other on the field is second to none and is the reason why they are arguably the best striking duo in the MLS.

“We are both very hard working, determined, and we want to score,” Cummings told MLSsoccer.com this week in Colorado before the team left for Columbus ahead of Saturday’s second-leg playoff match (4 p.m. ET, TeleFutura). “We have been working together for the last three-and-a-half seasons, and we know each other. We try to motivate each other and try and work for each other, especially on those off days.”

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Casey told MLSsoccer.com that that opportunity to work together for that long really has made a major difference. It is not an opportunity that presents itself to many forward duos in professional soccer. The fact they are so different in their types of play has also helped enormously.

“It makes a huge deal to know where he is going to be without really thinking about it,” he said. “I’m big, hold the ball up and he’s quick and takes on players one-vs.-one.”

Cummings said that although the two rarely see each other away from the pitch, they have huge mutual respect and never openly argue about a pass that goes astray or a run that either one may not have made.

It is hard to deny that when the duo play well together, the team follows suit. Witness the final 30 minutes of the first half of the Rapids’ 1-0 victory over Columbus at home last week, when the two created several chances. The Crew could count themselves lucky to not have been scored upon more.

With the second leg coming up, Casey and Cummings are relishing the challenge and ready for anything thrown at them.

“We will try to play our game, try to be patient, but we don’t want to stretch ourselves,” Cummings said. I would love for them to attack us and keep the game more open.”

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