Dax McCarty: “Who knows how much longer I have to be able to enjoy these camps?” (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
By Michael Lewis
Dax McCarty has a biological soccer clock and it is ticking away.
And perhaps no one realizes it more than Dax himself.
He is 30-years-old and the current Chicago Fire captain and former Red Bulls skipper knows that he won’t get another opportunity like this to impress U.S. national coach Bruce Arena and his staff to become a regular member of the national team and perhaps, who knows? — receive an opportunity perform in a World Cup.
It happened to Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman later in his career.
So, the CONCACAF Gold Cup will mean a lot to McCarty in so many ways. The U.S. might be deploying a B team in the competition as will defending champion Mexico, but McCarty won’t that deter his enthusiasm or desire.
“Who knows how much longer I have to be able to enjoy these camps?” McCarty said in a video U.S. Soccer shared with the media earlier this week. “So, I want to try to enjoy every moment I get to the step on the field. Tonight was an awesome moment. To be able to contribute in this game and hopefully some games in the Gold Cup, it’s going to be a great feeling. I never take representing my country for granted.”
He certainly did not last Saturday night, when he earned man of the match honors in the 2-1 warm-up win over Ghana in East Hartford, Conn.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “Very appreciative. Very humbling.”
Arena certainly liked what he saw and revealed something about himself when he coached at the LA Galaxy.
“I think he has responded really well,” he said. “He has shown that he belongs here. I think he’s a very good player. When I was in MLS I tried to trade for him. I think he’s a good midfield player and a player who can play well at the international level.”
McCarty hoped that it will be the start of something big, such as featuring regularly in the Gold Cup. The five-time continental champions open against Panama in Nashville, Tenn. Saturday.
The Winter Haven, Fla. native had been called into camp by Arena a couple of times this season, but did not feature in any games. McCarty was patient and when he got his opportunity, he ran with it, playing his usual dogged determined game in the middle of the field and making life miserable for opposing midfielders.
“It’s going to be a very big opportunity for me,” he said. “Obviously, a little bit more of a veteran guy on the roster. Just trying to do my part in being a good leader, try to help the young guys. We have a lot of really talented players who are all going to be big parts of the national team.”
Now, McCarty has but nine international appearances, but is respected by the younger generation for what he has accomplished in Major League Soccer, as a grizzled veteran and a dynamic defensive midfielder.
“We can sit down and talk to Dax,” said New England Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who is on the U.S. Gold Cup squad. “He is such a guy that you can come to at any time. I did today. We had a quick chat about the game and what I could do better and what he liked about it. He’s one of those guys you want to trust. He’s a veteran. He knows what he’s doing here. He’s a guy who’s always going to help young players, players of his own age. It doesn’t matter where it is. He’s a good guy to have on the field.”
McCarty hopes to prove it again and again in the Gold Cup.