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Dax McCarty Spits Fire About The Fire

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Dax calls out club for “a culture of losing” and fans yell “Oh Captain, my Captain!”

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls
Of the two players in this picture, one is currently on the Fire. And it ain’t the one in a Fire jersey. Dax McCarty is the one winning the header over Khaly Thiam in both the picture and the Fire.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Brand new signing Dax McCarty’s whirlwind off-season may seem to be slowing down, but he certainly isn’t. Last night he finally made it to the camp in Fort Meyers, FL, and this afternoon he took questions from the Fire press via conference call. What we got was quite beautiful. His focus seemed to be on the trade more than his new team, but he spoke plenty of his mind on both. Here are some highlights:

... and the biggest quote (in meaning and in length):

“I don't know the ins and outs of the front office, and the team and what's been going on. My view as an outsider is that the team has always been a fairly competitive team. I remember playing against Chicago last year and the year before and thinking, it's never an easy game to play against the Fire. From the outside looking in, and this might sound a bit harsh, but as you get to me know me better I speak my mind and I don't sugar coat things. From the outside looking in, it looked like losing almost became accepted. A culture of losing with this club almost became the norm from the front office down to the players down to all the staff. It almost became like they were indifferent about winning and that's crazy to me. That's insane.

When you're a club that hasn't made the playoffs in three or four years, when you're a club that has made the playoffs once in eight or nine years, I don't know the exact numbers but I think that there needs to be a little more accountability and there needs to be accountability from the top down to say, “this is ridiculous”. For the most part, it's harder to miss the playoffs numerous years in a row than it is to make it numerous years in a row. That's crazy to me, that this culture of losing has kind of been accepted.

I've said this to Nelson, and I've said this to Pauno, this isn't new. This is how I feel. I told them that I'm not the type of guy, and I'm not the type of player that is going to be okay with being average and having another losing season. I guess that's part of why they're bringing me in, to try to change that culture a little bit. It's not just one player. It's not just one coach. It's the entire organization from the top all the way to the bottom. From the owner, to the president. To the GM, to the head coach, to all the players, to the kid's staff, to the field crew, every single person in the club has to be pulling in the same direction. Every single person has to know that this club is going to be about winning and nothing else will be accepted. From my uneducated perspective on what's going on with the team, it just kind of seemed that losing became okay to everyone and that's something that we need to change.

This isn't a one-man effort. I'm not going to make any massive promises about how I'm going to come in and I'm going to change this, and I'm going to change that. I'm going to be myself. I'm going to be the player that I've always been. I'm going to try to be a good leader. I'm going to try my best to help the team on the field, but also help the team off the field.”

You can check out more of those full quotes here.

Hot (Time) Take

While big things were said about Jesse Marsch and the trade that brought him here, and his great praise for Juninho and other off-season signings, that giant quote at the end was the one that captured everyone’s attention.

This is a big part of what fans have been saying and feeling. There seems to be an air of accepting the inevitable every season. That we strive to at least be average so we’re not the worst is a pitiful and sorry state and Dax is pointing that out. In fact, he’s probably one of the first players I’ve seen come to the Fire and the first thing they say is, “this whole situation and mentality needs to change right now.” While Pauno said something similar last year, he framed it as though we already had that winning mentality.

Now Dax admits that one guy or one coach can’t change everything and even admits that maybe he won’t change anything. But this sort of talk gives Fire fans life and hope. And just like rebellions, championships are built on hope.

Before this conference call I wasn’t sure if Dax was even mentally up to the task of playing after such a stressful few weeks. But right now I’m ready to demand that he’s wearing that captain’s armband on March 4th.