August 14, 2012
BATTLING FOR A SPOT
McCarty not assured of a starting berth with the Red Bulls
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Dax McCarty: ďIt is competition but thatís what you want. You want players fighting for their places and challenging to be in the starting lineup."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. Ė A month ago, Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty was being talked about as someone whose play was good enough to be selected for the Major Leaue Soccer all-star game.
His numbers werenít gaudy as in 23 games and 2,064 minutes played, McCarty has just two goals and an assist. But McCarty has been the lynchpin of the New York midfield and one of the best central players in the league.
Now suddenly, the Red Bulls most steady player all year might be without a Starting XI spot.
Things seem to be conspiring against McCarty lately, despite his form remaining steady. First, the team traded for Sebastian Le Toux, adding a MLS Best XI forward to the roster who can also play in the midfield. Then, Jan Gunnar Solli returned to health and with the emergence of Brandon Barklage at right back, the Norwegian has been pushed to the midfield. And around the time the Red Bulls signed central midfielder Tim Cahill two weeks ago they also got Rafa Marquez and Teemu Tainio healthy and ready to play again.
Talk about some congestion in the middle of the park.
ďIt is competition but thatís what you want. You want players fighting for their places and challenging to be in the starting lineup. It isnít an easy decision now with all the players we have at that position but thatís what Hans [Backe, the coach] gets paid for, to make those types of tough decisions,Ē McCarty told BigAppleSoccer.com.
ďEveryone wants to play, everyone wants to start and Iím no different. But with everyone competiting, it makes practices extra sharp and thatís good Ė it makes everyone better. But at the end of the day, I will fight like hell to keep my spot.Ē
McCarty acknowledged the glut in the midfield, which also includes Joel Lindpere, who traditionally lines up on the left side of midfield but prefers to play centrally. Tainio is a favorite of Backe and his long passing coupled with superb positioning makes him a great fit for the bottom the midfield. And Cahill, with his designated player salary, wasnít brought in to ride the bench. To a lesser extent the same can be said of Marquez, who has the second highest salary on the Red Bulls roster.
So where that leaves McCarty, a gritty and hard-nosed player who has excelled this year as a box-to-box player, is uncertain. He said that he hasnít talked to the coaching staff about what role he might play in the midfield Ė he doesnítí feel it is necessary.
ďIím willing to play wherever or take whatever role to help this team with the ultimate goal of winning the MLS Cup,Ē McCarty said. ďIf that is centrally or on the wing as I did on Friday night when Rafa and Teemu came into the match, Iíll do it. I pride myself on being a versatile guy and someone who can help anywhere on the field. Thatís what matters to me the most is simply helping. Whatever Iím called on to do, Iíll do it.Ē