October 23, 2012
McCarty deserves to be Red Bull MVP
By Michael Lewis
Dax McCarty has enjoyed a career year for the Red Bulls.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
It would be easy to proclaim Thierry Henry as the Red Bulls' MVP.
Given his name, accomplishments and what he has achieved this season (14 goals and 12 assists), the former French international striker might be the obvious choice for many fans and members of the media.
But knowing Henry, he would want to give some of the credit to other players. The one I can think of is midfielder Dax McCarty.
He has been the glue of the team this season, stabilizing the central midfield position, playing box-to-box and and playing his heart out. McCarty's numbers might not be gaudy (three goals and two assists). But some other numbers do standout, such as paying in 32 out of a possible 33 games to date and leading the team in 2,829 minutes played on a team in which coach Hans Backe has had other options to use at central mid.
Watching his effort, the good positioning and soccer sense that McCarty puts in game-in and game-out puts him in prime position to the team MVP, at least in my eyes.
That is not to diminish what Henry has accomplished and what he has brought to the team. But as the team captain likes to remind the media from time to time, there are other players on the team and that there things just as important as scoring goals.
McCarty's leadership and overall play, particularly on the defensive side, which traditionally gets lost in the shuffle of goal-scoring achievements, deserves to be honored.
Heath Pearce, without a doubt.
Since Pearce joined the team from Chivas USA in trade for striker Juan Agudelo on May 17, Heath has been a constant on the backline, stabilizing a shaky defense. His experience, vision and positioning (that word again) has been one reason why the back four has performed better. His presence will be vital to the Red Bulls in the playoffs.
Had rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara not injured his hip and not be lost for the rest of the season after a stellar start, he would have been my first choice.
Newcomer of the year
There are many ways to interpret this award. I look at it as someone who is new to the league, not necessarily new to the team (ie. Kenny Cooper).
Using that criteria, I selected Meara over another rookie, Connor Lade.
For a first-year goalkeeper in the pros, Meara was a sensation, looking like he had played in Major League Soccer for years. If he made a mistake -- which was quite rare -- the former Fordham University standout never flinched, or at least he did not let the rest of the world know he was shaken.
My second choice was rookie defender-midfielder Connor Lade.
Hopefully, he comes back from that hip injury and enjoys a fruitful career.