A target striker. The necessary piece to solving a problem the Philadelphia Union have had since the beginning of 2011.
Conor Casey, acquired in the Second Stage of the 2012 MLS Re-Entry Draft, will play a role that the Union have not truly had since Alejandro Moreno left via the Expansion Draft. Unlike Moreno, Casey has the talent to score on a regular basis.
However, for all of Casey's talent, the big forward was slightly disappointing last year, as he was paid around $400,000 in guaranteed compensation in 2012 but did not score much, most likely due to an Achillies tendon rupture the year before. Injury concerns will dog Casey during negotiations with the Union for the upcoming season.
The Brotherly Game talked to fellow SB Nation soccer site the Burgundy Wave, which covers the Colorado Rapids, about Casey.
I've always been one of Casey's biggest fans, and I was very sad when the Rapids announced they would not be retaining him. Sure, he was expensive, but he was the best forward in the history of the club. I hope he sticks around in Philly and the fans enjoy his bruising yet finesse style of ball. (I hated the fact that Rapids fans underrated him so much.)
He might not score every game -- he will score, no questions about that, but it's not all he does -- but he is an absolute all-around target forward who contributes every time he is on the field. His off the ball movement is second to none, he will open up lanes for other players and make them look better than they really are, in some cases way better (See: Omar Cummings).
His age and injuries have slowed him down and removed some of his bite, and there's no guarantee that he will ever actually hit his old stride, of course. You won't be getting the dominant big guy of 2009, but even an old and more brittle Casey can do the job better than a lot of lesser target forwards. At worst, he should be a serviceable back-up who will bang in a few and help other guys score even more.
The only worry I would have is if he'll sign a new contract for a reasonable fee. From what we heard, one of the reasons he consented to leave from the Rapids is because he was hoping to keep something similar to the bloated $400,000 contract he had held in years past.