Has Houston Dynamo midfielder Tony Cascio played himself into the starting lineup on Opening Night?
The offseason in MLS was punctuated by big money signings, but if the preseason is any indication, it could be an under the radar loan move that proves to be the most impactful.
Days after the MLS SuperDraft, Tony Cascio found himself moving from the Colorado Rapids to perennial power Houston Dynamo. With Warren Creavalle on the mend from an offseason surgery, there was an opportunity for a midfielder to step up, and the 23-year-old Cascio wasted little time. The tall winger put up five goals in 11 preseason games and showed that he can add a spark to Houston’s already supremely talented midfield.
“I scored five goals in preseason. I think that’s enough to say I’m ready to do this and ready to produce,” Cascio told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s been good and I’ve played a lot of first team minutes and it’s good to build that chemistry with someone like Brad Davis and [Ricardo Clark] in the middle.”
Whether Cascio starts in the season opener against the New England Revolution on Saturday (7:30 p.m. CT, TICKETS) is still up in the air as head coach Dominic Kinnear did not divulge his lineup. The winger will be in a mix that includes Andrew Driver and Alexander López for the fourth spot to along with incumbents Boniek Garcia, Brad Davis and Ricardo Clark. However, Cascio did play with the trio in four times late in preseason with good results.
If it is indeed Cascio, it will come after a strong performance from a player that has done everything he can in a preseason to put any concerns about his form to rest after a rough year in Colorado. Instead of rounding into form, Cascio instead spent the preseason learning the Dynamo way.
“We as a group know how we’re going to play and how we’re going to be successful and when you have one weak link in that chain it can all fall apart,” Davis said. “[We] had to get on him just a little bit to let him know what the standard is here and what we need to do to win games and he responded well.
“[Tony] is a character that fits in well in the locker room,” Davis continued. “He’s been really good. He started working and fitting in and I think he’s doing a good job.”
It was only preseason and there is always a grain of salt added, but Cascio fit right in with his manic play unique personality.
Cascio’s ability to blend in has helped him ease into his Texas transition and has confidence high that if he is the call he’ll add to a midfield that has the ability to be one of the strongest attacking setups in the league. With stars like Davis, Garcia and Clark, whoever steps into Creavalle’s vacated spot against the Revs will have a chance to get the club’s attack off to a flying start.
“You go through some injuries and that all seems to be happening in the midfield right now,” Kinnear said. “We’ll be OK. If you can put out Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark, Boniek Garcia and Tony Cascio that’s still a good team to me I think.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com