Tonight's game between the Colorado Rapids and the Los Angeles Galaxy at Dick's Sporting Goods Park is important if the Rapids hope to catch the Galaxy in the standings, but it takes on a whole other level of pressure for Conor Casey.
Casey is treating it as another important division match, and he's right. The Rapids are in third place in Major League Soccer's Western Conference and are already six points behind the Galaxy (standings via MLSNet
). Los Angeles is among the league's best teams and is looking to take a clear conference lead.
says the Galaxy are in the midst of a three-games-in-seven-days stretch, with one win and matches against two "Western Conference powers," one in Colorado tonight and another against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. The Galaxy have never won at Dick's and will have to find ways to get offense from more than just Edson Buddle, who has scored nine of the Galaxy's 10 goals this year.
Buddle will be under pressure to carry his team to victory, but he's also competing with Casey, a south Denver soccer star, for a spot on the U.S. World Cup team. ColoradoRapids.com
reports that Casey and Buddle both have legitimate chances of playing for the World Cup team this summer in South Africa and that tonight's game is one of the last chances for the U.S. team brass to evaluate Casey and Buddle before the 30-man roster is due next week.
Buddle has nine goals compared to Casey's three, but the players bring different things to the table. Buddle is obviously an offensive powerhouse, but Casey is one of the most physical players in the United States and has the innate ability to hold onto the ball and keep defenders at bay.
Casey has to know what's on the line tonight, but he says that he's treating it as just another game. "(Buddle is) scoring a lot of goals, but that is not under my control," Casey says. "We will just be competing to try and get the three points against the number-one team in the conference."