April 30, 2012
McCarty steps up and then some
By Michael Lewis
Dax McCarty: "Itís not a position you get a lot of recognition in, which makes guys like Teemu Tainio and Rafa Marquez that much more important."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
When the sky starts to fall, it's good to know who can step up.
Dax McCarty certainly has become one of those players this season.
He has become the one constant in the midfield, taking over running the team, when other key players have fallen to the wayside.
Every week of the Red Bulls' young season this year, there has seem to be another crisis or another concern. Central defender Wilman Conde injures his groin. Central midfielder Teemu Tainio goes down with a kneeinjury. Central midfielder Rafa Marquez gets slapped with yet another three-game suspension.
On Saturday, captain and striker Thierry Henry went down with what was termed as a strained hamstring that is expected to keep him out of action for four weeks.
McCarty stepped up and was the glue of the team, the dirty worker, the transitional player, who helped move the ball out of the back and someone who tried his best to keep it out of the back, at least in dangerous situations.
It translated into a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution, the Red Bulls' first clean sheet of the season.
What McCarty was not very pretty, taking a back seat to his attacking chores to protect the young backline.
"Before the game thatís kind of what the coaching staff entrusted me to do," McCarty said. "Itís a position Iíve played in before, maybe not my best position. Today I wanted to stay more disciplined and I wanted to sit in front of the back four and kind of be an outlet for them and clean up things in the middle. I felt for the most part I did that, I did my job and itís not fun.
"Itís not a position you get a lot of recognition in, which makes guys like Teemu Tainio and Rafa Marquez that much more important but I think I played a role today just like everybody else."
Trust me, McCarty will get recognition for all the dirty work he did. Fans, media, teammates and coaching staff notice that kind of things.
"Dax was huge," rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara said. "Heís been great this year, especially today kind of taking on a real leadership role especially when Titi [THenry] went off injured. He just never stops running. Heís one of those guys that loves having the ball. With the back four and myself, you always feel you can play it to him because heíll take care of it and we can transition to attack."