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May 8, 2012
McCarty shows he can blend just about anywhere in the Red Bulls' midfield

Dax McCarty has become a valuable member of the Red Bulls due to his versatility.
Dax McCarty has become a valuable member of the Red Bulls due to his versatility.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Kristian R. Dyer Contributing Editor

UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Dax McCarty is not to be confused with a gecko and he probably won’t save you 15 percent or more on your car insurance. But the Red Bulls midfielder can help save a game or two for head coach Hans Backe and calls himself soccer’s answer to the “chameleon,” the animal that can blend in anywhere.

McCarty can blend in anywhere in the Red Bulls midfield.

On Saturday at the Home Depot Center without a suspended Rafa Marquez and an injured Teemu Tainio, McCarty slotted into the destroyer role in the midfield. Playing just above the Red Bulls backline, McCarty went an unheralded 90 minutes in the 1-0 win. Previously this season his position had been higher up on the field, usually playing at the top of the diamond midfield and doing hard running to open things up for the forwards.

Now, he was doing unheralded work as the Red Bulls knocked off the MLS Cup champions on the road.

“I find myself kind of, you know, like a chameleon," McCarty said. "Adapting to whatever role the coaches see for me in a particular game."

In his first full season with the Red Bulls, McCarty has played on the wing, in an attacking midfield role and also as a holding midfielder. The position utilizes his pit bull tenacity and soccer acumen.

It might also be a future role for him given how well he sees and reacts to the play on the field.

“Phenomenal. I always said and thought his strength was from the halfway line and forward but now I think playing a little bit deeper he has a picture of the whole field in front of him," coach Hans Backe said. "Probably that helps him now. His passing game - he had only two or three unforced errors in this game. Overall, he was phenomenal. Let’s see if that’s his position in the future.”

And the “chameleon” of the Red Bulls is more than fine with playing a more defensive role – or any role at that.

“You kind of do whatever you ask the coaches to do, to help the team out," McCarty said. "When we have Rafa and Teemu fit and Hans asks me to make runs behind the defense to help stretch the field, that’s OK."

“And then when you need someone to play in front of the defenders and clean things up, that’s a role I’m comfortable playing.”

Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer
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