Prolific strikers Cunningham, Casey hoping to score first MLS championship

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Photos by ISIphotos.com

By JOSE M. ROMERO

TORONTO – The long and illustrious careers of two of the most prolific scorers in Major League Soccer history collide Sunday when the Colorado Rapids' Conor Casey and FC Dallas' Jeff Cunningham battle with their respective clubs for the league championship.

Neither player — though both highly decorated — has ever played in the MLS Cup final. Casey's 42 career goals, all of which have been scored since he joined the Rapids in April, 2007, is a Colorado franchise record. Cunningham, who has played for five MLS teams since 1998, is second on the all-time goals list in MLS history with 132, one behind Jaime Moreno.

"I just want to win period," Casey said. "It doesn't really matter. A title would mean a lot for a lot of people, for me in particular."

The key for the Rapids, Casey said, is trying to maintain possession of the ball and dictate the pace of the game.

Cunningham, who refused to speak to the media leading up to the game battled Casey for the Golden Boot Award as MLS goals leader last season, edging his Colorado counterpart, 17-16, for the prize.

"This is fantastic for Jeff," FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said. "Every player wants to be the Golden Boot winner. He also wants a championship for himself, for the team, for his family. We got a lot out of Jeff this year. We all know that when Jeff's at his best, he's unstoppable."

The window for Cunningham could be closing soon. He's 34, although one would think he'd play next season so he could go for the all-time goals record.

"Definitely a lot of respect for him," Casey said of Cunningam. "He's a great goal-scorer."

Cunningham and Casey have a few things in common. They've both been capped by the United States men's national team, they've both scored goals for the Yanks, and both are former Toronto FC players trying to win the cup in the city where they once played.

"To be back for a final is the best way to return," Casey said.

He made only two appearances for TFC in 2007 before being traded to Colorado. It was in Rocky Mountain country where Casey became an MLS scoring machine.

"Playing 90 minutes every weekend, playing with a good group of players, being healthy, it's been key," Casey said.

Casey has forgotten about being left off the U.S. World Cup team this past summer and says he has no plans "whatsoever" to actively pursue a spot on the national team.

"I just want to win a cup, that's it," Casey said. 

Casey's 13 goals this season came from an effective partnership with co-striker Omar Cummings and finishing some chances.

"We definitely both benefited from each other," Casey said."I want to score as many times as I can with the club." 

FC Dallas has a similar situation with Cunningham and league MVP David Ferreira.

"It's an honor for me (to play with Cunningham)," Ferreira said. "He's a such a good technical player and he prepares well and works hard." 

For one of the two league legends, a win Sunday night at BMO Field would provide a celebration greater than any of their 174 combined goals.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS Cup, MLS- Colorado Rapids, MLS- FC Dallas, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Prolific strikers Cunningham, Casey hoping to score first MLS championship

  1. RB says:

    I’d just like to say thank you, Ives, for keeping up this steady stream of coverage leading up to the final match this evening. I for one really appreciate it. :-)

    But that said, one really sort of has to wonder why you would bother. I mean, you’re obviously not doing this site just for me, or just for me and the handful of others here who have not declared pretty much ad nauseam over the past week that the MLS post-season is a meaningless joke, that no one will attend the match, that no one even goes to see these teams play in their home cities, that it’s all a marketing disaster for the league, that it’s a shame that we don’t have any real teams like NYRB or LA in the final, with real stars to watch, and that anyway it’s a boring match-up and will undoubtedly be such a boring game, the foregone conclusion being that the Rapids will of course just collapse and be beaten handily by mighty Dallas (who themselves say they played the real cup final last week, of course).

    I mean, to paraphrase a very different Cummings than the one on the field today, you know, pity this whining monster, the MLS unfan.

    You are doing a fine job, however, whatever your rationale may be!

  2. Brian says:

    How is Conor Casey’s MLS career “long and illustrious career” and how is he one “the most prolific scorers in Major League Soccer history”?

  3. d says:

    i’m curious to see if Cunningham gets the start today, recent practice would predict otherwise, Not sure if he even gets minutes.

  4. Ebo says:

    Best duo in MLS, bar none. Will it be enough against Dallas?