HARRISON, N.J. – It took nearly a month, but Conor Casey finally showed why the Philadelphia Union acquired him this offseason.
After playing only six minutes through the team’s first three games because of a nagging hamstring injury, Casey scored his first goal in a Union uniform Saturday, heading home a Sheanon Williams throw-in in the second half of a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls.
“It’s always great to get the first goal for your club, the first goal of the season, the first goal in a long time,” said Casey, who scored 50 times in six seasons for the Colorado Rapids before getting picked up by the Union in December. “That’s definitely the good part of today. I’ll carry that with me for the next week or so. But at the end of the day, we wanted to win the game.”
The Union weren’t able to win, which has been the norm at Red Bull Arena, where they are now 0-5 in franchise history.
But it wasn’t because of Casey, who became the first Union player to score at New York’s home stadium since 2010. The 6-foot-2 striker also controlled the ball in the attacking third and provided Philly with a dangerous aerial target after coming into the game in the 61st minute.
“That’s his first real minutes since opening day,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “To have him back, he gives us a different dimension. We struggled holding the ball up all day, so to have him in there is good. He’s able to do that.”
Casey admitted it was difficult hurting his hamstring in the closing minutes of the Union’s season opener on March 2 and then missing two straight league matches, including what would have been a homecoming in Colorado.
But a quick nod of the head on a Williams’ throw-in just two minutes after entering Saturday’s game made him feel a whole lot better – and certainly showed Union fans what they had been missing.
“I feel good,” Casey said. “I had a good preseason under me but unfortunately, I got a little ding in the first game. But since then, the staff’s done a great job getting me healthy and I’m ready to go now.”