It was supposed to be a special homecoming for Conor Casey.
The only problem? He never came home.
The Philadelphia Union striker didn’t travel to Colorado to face his old Rapids team this weekend because of a pulled right hamstring – an injury Philly manager John Hackworth said he sustained at the very end of last week’s game against Sporting Kansas City.
“We really thought he would be fine,” Hackworth said following the Union’s 2-1 win over Colorado on Sunday. “By Wednesday, we were planning on him training on Thursday and playing. But these things sometimes take a little while and this one wasn’t good on Thursday. So we couldn’t bring him.”
During his press conference last week, Hackworth spoke of the extra motivation Casey would feel about playing against his former team, but he never mentioned the injury. Neither did Casey, who said he was anxious to see his old friends and curious to hear the reception from the Rapids fans.
Was there ever a thought of bringing Casey along for the trip even with the injury?
“It would have been nice to have him here in so many ways,” Hackworth said. “We certainly missed him. But when you have an injury, especially with the travel fiasco we’ve gone through to get here and stay here, it was probably better he stayed home.”
Even with Casey’s absence and the “travel fiasco,” which included dealing with the 24-hour postponement of the game because of a blizzard, the Union pulled off an improbable 2-1 win.
Still, the start to the season hasn’t been particularly auspicious for Casey, who played just six minutes in his Union debut before getting hurt.
Casey, the Rapids’ all-time leading scorer and one of the Union’s prized offseason acquisitions, has dealt with injury problems over the past couple of years. But Hackworth seemed cautiously optimistic the 31-year-old striker would return soon.
Will it be for the Union’s next game on Saturday against New England?
“I hope so,” Hackworth said.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com.