Work in Sports
Playing like a pro
College kid Casey to get second U.S. match vs. Cameroon
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- At 19, University of Portland sophomore Conor Casey is the only amateur on the 18-man U.S. men's Olympic soccer team, yet the forward is one of the first selected in the starting lineup.
The college All-Star team of 1996 has been superseded by a squad containing 17 pros, and the improvement is marked. U.S. coach Clive Charles -- who also happens to be Casey's coach at Portland -- says the Americans are capable of winning every preliminary game and advancing to the second round for the first time in an Olympics.
Casey had an assist in the 2-2 tie against the Czech Republic on Wednesday but missed several chances to score the winner. Charles said the young striker had overcome his nerves and seemed destined to find the back of the net Saturday against Cameroon.
"He'll score sooner or later -- he always seems to find a way," Charles said.
Charles said Casey was outstanding in the opening game and was unlucky not to get the clincher after Josh Wolff and Chris Albright scored for the Americans.
"He's the college kid and he's come out here and played very, very well," he said. "As a matter of fact, we didn't have a player who had an average game. They all played very well."
Charles said he was satisfied with the opening match against the Czech Republic, the 1980 Moscow Olympic champions, but said Saturday would be more difficult because the opposition knew what to expect.
Cameroon opened with a 3-2 win against Kuwait in Brisbane, and practiced in secret Friday.
"I don't think they've invented anything new -- so if they want to train behind closed doors, that's up to them," Charles said. But he said Cameroon would be more unpredictable than the Czech Republic.
"We're playing a team that's going to cause us different kinds of problems. They look to play more through midfield; they're very explosive.
"I think we're going to have to be a little bit more sophisticated in our defending to deal with them."
The full Cameroon men's team reached the World Cup quarterfinals in 1990 and became the first African nation to qualify for three consecutive World Cup finals by reaching France '98.