He calls it the toughest decision he has ever had to make as the technical director of the Colorado Rapids. But for Paul Bravo, the decision to part ways with Conor Casey, the club’s all-time leading scorer, 2010 MLS Cup MVP and Denver native, was about the big picture.
That did not make Friday’s announcement – that the Rapids and Casey had mutually decided to go their separate ways – any easier.
“You’re talking about a legend in the eyes of our fan base and he’s literally larger than life and probably one of the most important players to ever pull on the jersey, and that’s what makes it so difficult,” Bravo told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday night. “I was a huge fan and always will be.”
While Bravo declined to discuss specifics over the parting, Casey managed only eight goals in the last two seasons while battling an assortment of injuries, most notably a torn Achilles’ tendon suffered in summer 2011. With the striker turning 32 in the middle of next season and his production waning, the writing was, perhaps, on the wall.
“For me, it was not easy. Certainly wasn’t easy,” Bravo said. “We really got through a lot of things, it was by mutual respect. Conor has a great deal of passion for this club. He has a great deal of passion for Denver and Colorado, he’s grown up here.”
Bravo and Casey met earlier this week for a year-end evaluation, and both ultimately decided that after six seasons in Commerce City, it was time for the local kid who’d been the face of the franchise to continue his career elsewhere. But even with the difficult decision now official, the parting appeared to be an amicable one.
“What we do know is Conor helped us win our first championship,” Bravo added. “The thing we want to continue to re-iterate is we have a lot of fond memories that brought us a bunch of joy in 2010. It’s been a very difficult day for the club. It’s not been easy, no doubt.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.