CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union striker Conor Casey tried to downplay the idea that he will have extra motivation when he plays against his old Rapids team in Colorado on Saturday.
Union manager John Hackworth did no such thing, though, indicating that Casey will likely see the field more than he did last week when the Union take on the Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (6 pm ET, MLS Live).
Casey, who starred for six seasons in Colorado before coming to Philly in the offseason, played only six minutes in his Union debut last week.
“I don’t think there’s any better motivation than a player going back to his home club,” Hackworth said. “We saw Cristiano Ronaldo do it [Tuesday] at Old Trafford. For Conor, I think that would be great and I certainly think it’s a great possibility for us to [give him more playing time].”
Casey said he will have “mixed” emotions upon his return to Colorado.
The 31-year-old striker didn’t sound particularly bitter about getting released by the Rapids in November, calling the split “as amicable as it could be after being there for such a long time.”
Instead, the Rapids’ all-time leading scorer focused more on getting the opportunity to play in front of his old fans – although he was unsure what kind of reception he would get.
“I had been there for a really long time – six years – and I had great years there,” Casey said. “I had amazing support from the fans. It will be nice to play in the stadium again in front of family and friends and all of those fans. It will be a little strange to be wearing a different jersey.”
While many of his former teammates are no longer in Colorado, Casey said he’ll be happy to see a couple of his old friends on the team, particularly Rapids veteran Pablo Mastroeni.
Together, Casey and Mastroeni helped the Rapids capture the MLS Cup in 2010.
On Saturday, they will be on opposite sides of the field, trying to get the better of each other for the first time.
“Any time you leave and compete against somebody, if they’re your friends, you probably want to beat them even more,” Casey said. “So that’s definitely the case.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.