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Tony Cascio's Long Road To Recovery

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After being out almost six months with a back injury, Orlando's midfielder could be set for his Lions MLS debut tonight.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Cascio's career has been full of ups and downs. After a stellar career at UConn from 2008-2011, he was drafted 14th overall in the MLS SuperDraft by the Colorado Rapids. His rookie season in 2012 was full of promise and hope of good things to come for the midfielder. However, he fell into a sophomore slump in 2013 and his play became inconsistent and his playing time was severely reduced.

The next year, Cascio was the first ever player in MLS to be loaned within the league, heading south to the Houston Dynamo. With the Dynamo, Cascio made five appearances, including four starts to begin the season. After it looked like he was regaining his form from his rookie year, the midfielder learned that he had suffered a torn ACL and would be out for the season.

With the normal time for an ACL injury to heal being at least nine months, Cascio was able to get back into shape in six. In an interview before the season, Cascio said:

"Coming back from the ACL, mentally, is a little tough. 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."

That hard playing attitude was what convinced Head Coach Adrian Heath and Orlando City to take a chance on the young Cascio with their second pick in the 2014 Expansion Draft. He began preseason with the club as their starting left winger and looked good combining with Kaká, Kevin Molino and Martin Paterson. Just after the season began, however, Cascio began to have soreness in his back, which kept him on the bench the first three games of the season and stopped him from being with the team at the end of March after his left leg began to go numb.

It was then revealed that Cascio had a bulging disc in his back, which can be very painful, as well as debilitating. For the past four months, Cascio has been biding his time and waiting for the opportunity to get back out on the field. Now, with the Lions without some key players, Cascio could be ready to jump into the thick of things again.

Heath told the Orlando Sentinel's Paul Tenorio,

"We're not 100 percent certain if he is going to start, but Tony can come and give us a spark from somewhere."

With only seven more games left in this year's campaign, the time is perfect for Cascio to help this team make a push for the playoffs.