COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – As a 21-year-old rookie on a squad filled with proven veterans, Colorado Rapids attacker Tony Cascio will likely find himself low on the depth chart. But that doesn’t mean Cascio he won’t be ready if called upon.
After starting both games of last week’s pre-season Hawaiian Invitational Tournament, Cascio – the 14th overall pick in January’s SuperDraft out of UConn – rewarded head coach Oscar Pareja for his faith with a dominating performance in Saturday’s 1-0 consolation win over the Melbourne Heart of Australia's A-League. Cascio scored the game’s lone-goal on a rocket shot, and could have added more if not for two strikes off the woodwork.
“Tony’s showing us that he can help right away, and that’s exciting for us,” Pareja said this week. “I’m very pleased with Tony, [but] he knows we know that there’s a lot of room to grow still. But definitely he’s in a good direction and I’m excited.”
Cascio’s impressive performances in training have earned him more and more minutes as the preseason has drawn on, a result that’s even surprised Cascio himself.
“I had no clue,” Cascio told MLSsoccer.com after practice on Wednesday. “I was playing with the reserves. … When we got to Hawaii I was training with the first team and I was, like, [this is] kind of weird. The first team’s helped me out. It’s going well."
Despite the bright start to his time in Rapids burgundy, Cascio knows there’s still plenty of work to be done to earn more time, particularly with an expected battle for minutes with newly acquired Martín Rivero.
“I just play it week-by-week,” Cascio said. “It’s a professional atmosphere, if you have a bad week, you don’t deserve to start. … Hopefully I can make a good impact on the team and get some playing time and help the team win some games.”