Strong effort, but it's not enough
Conor Casey didn't say a word. He made his way into the locker room, quickly got dressed and vanished before many reporters even knew he was there.
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The Union's 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City Saturday, eliminating them from playoff contention, was tough to swallow. For Casey, the team's second-leading goal scorer (10), it was easier to stay silent than to discuss the heartbreak and agony the team and fans had just witnessed.
"I hope everyone realizes what an effort those guys in the locker room put in today," said manager John Hackworth. "Our guys came out and really gave it everything they had, and executed a great game in the first half. Giving up a goal early in the second half changed everything."
Two minutes into the second half, Sporting KC's Graham Zusi scored on a header off a corner kick, which had the Union playing with urgency the rest of the way. They didn't want their season to end.
Jack McInerney finished a pass from Jeff Parke into the box to even the score at 1-1 in the 88th minute, but the joy was short-lived as Kansas City midfielder Lawrence Odom crushed the Union's playoff hopes with a goal in the second minute of stoppage time.
"It sucks because I know we were right there," said Union defender Sheanon Williams. "This team has worked hard all season and to see that all go away in 90 minutes is heartbreaking, but I'm proud of everyone that stepped into this locker room and put forth their effort for the entire season."
McInerney entered the game in the 61st minute as a sub and nearly lifted the team to a thrilling victory. He's had two goals in the past three games, but after scoring 10 goals in the first 14, fans are going to remember his drought from June to October the most.
"It was really frustrating [the drought] and there were times where I felt like I was letting the team down," said McInerney. "But, nobody expected me to do what I did in the beginning of the year. I do feel like I let some players and fans down, but It is what it is. I can't score every goal for us."
Now, the Union will have to focus on the offseason and coming back even better next year. The young core the Union possess surprised many soccer experts and Hackworth believes the best is yet to come.
"There's a lot of guys in that locker room that are going to be back here next year and will really have profited from the experiences they've had this season," said Hackworth. "The future looks bright for this team. I really believe it does."