It’s been a long road to this moment for Dax McCarty.
The son of parents who were both standout athletes in their heyday, Dax was seemingly destined to be one as well.
An emerging soccer talent as a kid, McCarty earned a scholarship to UNC, where he helped them reach the postseason in both of his seasons with the team. And while he wasn’t lighting up the score sheet, he was doing what Dax always does best: getting results. The team racked up 15 clean sheets and at one point had a streak of over 900 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal. To no one’s surprise, McCarty was named First Team All-ACC.
Although he has sometimes been overshadowed by goal scorers and speedy wingers, Dax McCarty has been a staple of MLS since being drafted 6th overall by FC Dallas in 2006. After a hectic scene of events saw expansion team Portland Timbers pluck McCarty from Dallas in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft, he was traded to the nation’s capital, where he spent the first half of 2011.
Dax finally found a place to call home with Red Bulls, where he spent six seasons, amassing 169 starts and 14 goals. During his time in the Big Apple, he helped New York secure two Supporter’s Shields, earned a place in the 2015 MLS All-Star game, and was named to the 2015 Best XI.
McCarty has started a new journey this year, teaming up with Bastian Schweinsteiger and the red hot Chicago Fire, who are potentially looking at a Supporter’s Shield of their own and a possible run at an MLS Cup. If he can help guide the Fire through the playoffs and end the season lifting silverware, he’ll have accomplished yet another incredible feat.
But there’s another mountain that McCarty is climbing. And after all these years, he’s exceptionally close to the summit.
Dax McCarty joined the US Men’s National Team system in 2007, when he was a part of the U20 World Cup roster that reached the quarterfinals. Since then, he’s navigated his way through the ranks, securing a promotion to the U23 squad in 2008, and earning his first USMNT cap the next season in a friendly against Slovakia. However, in the following years under the direction of Jurgen Klinsmann, there wasn’t much room in the team sheet for McCarty, who received only one call-up during Klinsmann’s tenure.
Now that Jurgen Klinsmann is gone, Dax is getting another chance from a familiar face. Bruce Arena, no stranger to Major League Soccer, has chosen an MLS-heavy roster as the US delves into the 2017 Gold Cup. Arena, in a recent interview, called McCarty a “good, experienced player,” and that’s exactly what the national team needs at this point. Make no mistake, McCarty has his sights set on impressing Arena and earning a call-up for the 2018 World Cup. But, that’s not who Dax is as a player. In an interview ahead of the Gold Cup, he said although it’s “frustrating” when he isn’t selected to feature in a match, he will “continue to be a good teammate,” and “support the guys that do play.”
And that’s the thing about Dax McCarty; it’s always about the team. Chicago Fire coach Velko Paunovic, when asked to describe his core of midfielders, chose these three words: “leadership...commitment and consistency.” Those words embody McCarty’s style of play and his character as a teammate.
As the USMNT gets set to square off against Martinique later tonight, Dax McCarty’s primary focus will be on helping the team win, as it has been since his days at Chapel Hill. However, there’s no question that in the back of his mind, he has his sights on playing in Moscow this time next year. A few good performances this summer can help him reach the peak of the US Soccer mountain.