MLS 2011 Preview: Dax McCarty Should Thrive In New Environment

Last year was an up and down season for midfielder Dax McCarty. Throughout the year he struggled with injuries as FC Dallas saw plenty of success without him on the field. He butted heads with head coach Schellas Hyndman and also struggled to find time on the pitch even when he was healthy. Rookie Eric Alexander seemed to pass him on the club’s depth chart at one point in the season, making his push for playing time that much harder.

Dax McCarty

Position: Central midfielder

Team: D.C. United

Nationality: United States

Age: 23

After helping lead FC Dallas into the MLS Cup title game, he was left exposed in Expansion Draft and then traded to D.C. United.

Team App. Goals
FC Dallas
93 5
United States
5 0
U.S. U-23
6 0
U.S. U-20
5 0

Towars the end of the season Dallas was on a 19-game unbeaten run and McCarty was finally feeling healthy again. As the club entered the playoffs McCarty was a key part of the club’s success in the post season as the club from North Texas reached the MLS promised land for the first time in team history.

But sometimes history isn’t made the way you want it to. For McCarty and Dallas, the MLS Cup didn’t go as they had hoped. A few days later, much to the surprise of McCarty and most that follow MLS, he was placed on Dallas’ unprotected list for the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft for the Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

With Portland picking first in the Expansion Draft, most pundits expected them to take McCarty. Sure enough McCarty was selected first. Shortly after the draft was over Portland shocked everyone as they traded McCarty (and allocation money) away to D.C. United for Rodney Wallace and a fourth round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.

How does McCarty's skillset fit into his new team?

McCarty will be a part of a new and improved midfield in D.C. this season. Look for him to be the link between the defensive side of things and the offensive side. His passing and ability to find teammates in space is what makes McCarty so effective for his club. When he was on his game in Dallas you saw him spreading out defenses and finding guys on the wings better than most in the league. With D.C. having guys like Charlie Davies and Chris Pontius up top, they’ll love being able to get on the end of a McCarty cross or pass.

What kind of impact can McCarty have on his team?

The biggest key with McCarty is his health. As long as he’s able to play in 25-30 games this season, there is little doubt that he will have a great impact on the club. The Black-and-Red are trying to get back to where they expect to be, the playoffs and the MLS Cup. Having a guy like McCarty in the midfield certainly helps.

What's a reasonable expectation in terms of production and playing time?

Again it comes down to health and fitness. Staying fit and injury free for McCarty should mean he’ll be a starter for the majority of the season. However, if he picks up some random bumps and bruises along the way, don’t be shocked if he only plays in 20 games or so.

What's the ceiling on McCarty?

In a way this should be a fresh start for McCarty. He’s finally out of Hyndman’s locker room, a move that was bound to happen before long, even had the club protected him back at the Expansion Draft. Health is a key factor and D.C. will probably hope to get his 2009 production out of him (career-high three goals and six assists), rather than his 2010 production (one goal, two assists). Look for him to view this move and new start as a way to revamp his own career. He’ll be one of the key guys in Ben Olsen’s lineup for 2011. As long as the production goes north of three goals and seven assists, expect him and D.C. to be back in a very wide-open Eastern Conference.

- Report by Drew Epperley of Big D Soccer (FC Dallas blog)

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