COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Tony Cascio’s first MLS game is in the books, and despite a bumpy start, Colorado Rapids striker is feeling pretty good about himself after logging 69 minutes as a starter in this past Saturday’s season-opening 2-0 win over Columbus.
“I could feel myself touching the ball and kind of not [being] myself [in the first half],” Cascio told MLSsoccer.com following Tuesday’s training session at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. “But as the game went on, I got into it more.”
Cascio started on the left side of the Rapids’ three-striker formation against Columbus and had a few early giveaways. As the game progressed, Cascio displayed the skill and effectiveness that made him the 14th overall pick in January’s MLS SuperDraft.
“We threw Tony into the field knowing it was his first game, and we were not afraid to put him in there because that’s the only way to get through that nervousness that [rookies] may have, and I thought he did well,“ Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said about the rookie's performance after the game on Saturday.
“[Tony] was growing as the game went and he had a couple plays where he was important. He did a great job defensively as well. I know that he’s going to be a good player in the MLS.”
At the tender age of 21, Cascio was the youngest Rapids starter on the field by four years – Marvell Wynne was the next oldest at 25 – and at points he noticed the difference between himself and his more experienced teammates and opponents.
“They’re smart – smart with the ball and spaces close down quicker,” said Cascio, a four-year starter at the University of Connecticut, of the differences between college and the pros.
Despite a debut that earned mostly rave reviews from coaches and teammates alike, Cascio still said there’s one thing in particular that he needs to work on.
“I think just holding the ball and keep the ball and maintaining possession,” he said.