Casey Townsend says he is just here to help.
In less than two weeks since FC Cincinnati acquired the 27-year-old forward from the Wilmington Hammerheads, Townsend already has begun to deliver.
FC Cincinnati picked up Townsend just before the United Soccer League's roster freeze Sept. 6 to help provide a boost for the first-year club's playoff push. Townsend scored the game-winning goal Sept. 17 in his home debut to help FC Cincinnati secure a first-round home game as the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The club closes out the regular season at Pittsburgh on Saturday before opening the postseason Oct. 2 at Nippert Stadium.
"Obviously, transitioning (to a new team) toward the end of the season is not ideal, but I'm just here to help and hopefully help us in the playoffs and hopefully win a championship," Townsend said. "I'm happy to do whatever I can to help."
More specifically, FC Cincinnati coach John Harkes said, the addition of Townsend helps fill the void left by the injury to Omar Cummings, a forward who still remains tied for third on the team in points (11) despite playing just 16 games. The 2015 North American Soccer League-leading scorer suffered a serious leg injury in a 1-1 draw against Rochester Aug. 24.
FC Cincinnati has struggled most of the season to make the most of created opportunities, often dominating possession but failing to finish while averaging 1.4 goals per game. The Orange and Blue still have managed an impressive 15-6-8 record, but they have their eyes on a USL title. Townsend could be that extra piece they need to do it.
"To lose Omar Cummings at this point in the season was devastating," Harkes said. "He's such a great leader and to have a player like Omar, with his experience and his heart and attitude and his professionalism, is remarkable. He was the NASL-leading goal scorer last year for a reason. To not have him on the field, you need an injection, you need someone to step in. We like promoting from within, but there's nothing wrong with having another player that can mix it up a little and challenge."
In 12 games with Wilmington, Townsend had two goals and one assist.
The former University of Maryland standout was a first-round MLS SuperDraft pick in 2012, going fifth overall to Chivas USA, where he played 17 games and made 10 starters, but he's bounced around since getting traded to D.C. United in 2013. He spent time in the USL, North American Soccer League and MLS in 2014, then spent the 2015 season with the USL's Oklahoma Energy FC before getting transferred to Wilmington this past May.
Harkes sees more potential in Townsend than what his stats the past couple of years indicate he is capable of.
"I see a player that needs a different platform, which we're going to challenge him and push him a little more," the coach said. "I see a player that can be aggressive in and around the box and sniff goals out, that causes another threat. We've got to give him more game time and minutes, and the more he's playing the fitter he's going to be and the sharper he's going to be.
"I'm just going to keep pushing him hard, because I want a lot out of him," Harkes said. "That's what we brought him in for."
After more than a week with FC Cincinnati, Townsend already feels at home, helped by the fact that he had previously played with several of the guys on the team, such as Corben Bone, Kenney Walker and Andrew Wiedeman.
Overall, he knew about half the team before arriving in Cincinnati.
"He's fitting in great," midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin said. "He's a great guy. We knew of him and some guys knew him already, so he's fitting in well and doing a great job on the field.
"He's a great striker, natural goal-scorer, so he definitely brings a threat to score goals and he does a great job bringing behind and doing the dirty work as well, so he's a guy that can hold the ball for us and maintain possession and score some goals."
Townsend said he doesn't want to "step on any toes," and the other players on the team have been accepting of him, despite the late start.
For him, it was a "no brainer" to come to Cincinnati because of the opportunities it could provide. Wilmington has been in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference table most of the season and sits one point behind Orlando City B for the final playoff spot.
"Like everyone else, I've been hearing about the fans and the big crowds. It's obviously one of the top teams in the league, and with the coaching staff and players they have and the opportunity to try to win a USL title, it was a perfect fit," Townsend said. "I knew what I was getting into coming in so late in the season, but I was just excited to get here."
In his home debut with FC Cincinnati, Casey Townsend came off the bench in the 66th minute and provided the lone goal 15 minutes later on a header to finish Eric Stevenson's cross.
Townsend started and played 71 minutes in his FC Cincinnati debut Sept. 14 in a scoreless draw at Pittsburgh, a game in which he hit the post on one of the club's best scoring opportunities.
In his home debut, three days later, he came off the bench in the 66th minute and provided the lone goal 15 minutes later on a header to finish Eric Stevenson's cross. Townsend said the crowd was every bit what it had been hyped up to be and he looks forward to seeing what a playoff environment looks like at Nippert Stadium.
He hopes he can continue to help give the fans more reasons to cheer. FC Cincinnati had already sold 10,000 tickets to the playoff opener by Thursday morning, less than an hour after opening them up to the general public.
"It's exciting to be a part of what they've got going on here," Townsend said. "I've been doing this long enough, I don't feel any added pressure. Like I said, I'm just here to help, and hopefully I can help provide a little edge as we head into the playoffs and try to win a championship."