ORLANDO - On December 10th, as Orlando City SC and NYCFC were preparing to select a combined 20 players in the 2014 MLS Expansion draft, 24 year old Tony Cascio, who was among the players in the unprotected pool, kept to his routine by training hard at a gym in his hometown.
“My dad comes in. He normally doesn’t come watch me work out,” Cascio quipped, “He asked me, ‘Do you know what team you’re going to?’ ” Cascio guessed New York based on a conversation he had with head coach Jason Kreis just the day before.
“[Kreis] was just saying, ‘You're pretty high on our list,’ ” recalled Cascio. Orlando City had other plans, securing the talents of the promising young midfielder with their second round selection.
"Tony is somebody we've liked for a long time," revealed Head Coach Adrian Heath after the draft. “He's still young, but he's got games in the league and he knows what the league is about. We feel he has plenty more to come."
Cascio comes from the Houston Dynamo, where after playing his way into the starting XI during the 2014 preseason, he suffered a season ending ACL injury.
“That was kind of tough,” Cascio said with pursed lips. “But a lot of people say you come back stronger.”
That certainly seems to be the case with Cascio. An average ACL injury can take upwards of 9 months to recover from - Tony was back in 6. His time away from the game wasn’t without its benefits, either.
“Just watching the games from a different perspective. You can see everything. Like ‘He could of played that ball here, he could have made a run there,’ ” said Cascio. “Just little stuff like that.”
“Coming back from the ACL, mentally, is a little tough,” cautioned Cascio. ”Just knowing that it happens so quickly and easily, I mean, you kind of want to be careful but at the same time, that’s not my game. I play hard and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Thankfully, Cascio followed his rehab partner to Orlando.
“Tally Hall called me when I got drafted here and said Orlando was pretty first class,” said Cascio with a smile on his face. “We got a little closer last year just from having the ACL’s and we’d always joke with each other.”
Cascio is thrilled to be reunited with his former teammate. “Tally is a great guy,” offered Cascio. ”He gets his players prepared ahead of him and he’s a fun guy in the locker room.”
And, while Tony gets settled into his new city, it never hurts to have a place to crash.
Cascio laughed, ““I’ll probably rent a room from him.”