HOUSTON – Tony Cascio became the forgotten man in Colorado in 2013. After a promising rookie season, a slow start and inconsistency forced the winger to fall to the back of the pack and watch as the Rapids made a run to the playoffs.
An offseason move later, the first intra-league loan in MLS history, and Cascio is now with Houston Dynamo and is using some hard lessons to fuel his game as one of the Dynamo camp’s standouts.
“I was sitting out last year and it gave me a little fire to go out and show people I can play and try and prove myself and show people I can play at this level,” Cascio told MLSsoccer.com.
Early returns indicate he is accomplishing that goal. Through six preseason games he has turned his high-paced style into three goals and has performed well on both sides of the field.
The 23-year-old's play has certainly caught people’s attention as he frequently goes forward and finds his spot at the back post. Perhaps those traits come as a surprise to those not familiar with his game?
“He might be a surprise to some people that don’t really know him too well, but following him in college and what I saw in Colorado I thought he would fit in,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “I think he gets it. When he takes that first step forward and takes people on, that’s the reason we tried to acquire him.”
As the winger is taking advantage of the new opportunity in preseason, he is reminded it was this time last year where things went awry.
“Coming into preseason I thought I was going to start but never could find a rhythm. I was in and out the first 10 games and we just had depth to the team,” Cascio said. “For me I was just too inconsistent. As a professional you’ve just got to be consistent.”
The result was a season of lessons for Cascio. The slow start meant less time on the pitch and put him behind new faces, relegating him to the bench as the Rapids made a run to the playoffs.
It may have been a hard lesson, but according to a familiar face in Houston, Cascio is the same player from his impressive rookie season.
“When I saw him play last year I didn’t see him try and change his game,” said Dynamo forward Omar Cummings who was on the Rapids with Cascio in 2012. “He’s a player that shows no fear. He was still taking people on, still driving people and taking shots. It’s good to see him come here and do the same thing.”
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For now, Cascio looks to be capitalizing on those skills. He has settled into a welcoming locker room, something that does not surprise Cummings, and shown the attacking play that fits the club’s style.
Now it is a matter of settling in and avoiding the consistency pitfalls of 2013. If he does, the future could hold a significant role and possibly an extended stay in Houston for Cascio, as there is an option to keep him with the Dynamo permanently.
“I think they know what they’re bringing in and I hope it all works out,” Cascio said. “Hopefully I get some more playing time and develop here and take it back to the Rapids. Maybe I like it here and end up staying.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.