Interview: Dax McCarty, The New Ginger Ninja

We can see "The Red Arrow," But TSG is going "Ginger Ninja"

Shaun dropped the Ginger Ninja reference on Paul Scholes last week and I couldn’t help but think it was a most-fitting reference for perhaps the most affable member of the USMNT January camp, Dax McCarty.

For those that are not privy to the goings on of the shifty midfielder, Dax McCarty made an impact with FC Dallas in 2007. Having joined the team the year before after casting aside his senior year at North Carolina, Dax–we just can’t call him “McCarty” in this interview–registered 10 assists and 1 goal in 18 starts and 10 sub appearances for the Hoops.

Known for his ability to move the ball quickly and move with the ball quickly, McCarty registered his first senior cap just this past November coming on for Michael Bradley in the 2nd half of the national team’s friendly with Slovakia.

TSG had the occasion to spend some time with Dax McCarthy after a rigorous practice during January camp. In fact, as seniority goes, we believe, Dax was the last in line for us and he was waiting patiently for us to finish our interviews.

We couldn’t have asked for a more forthcoming person.

Dax getting tall for the USMNT

While we swore to ourselves we’d avoid the angles of stature and hair color in this piece, there’s no avoiding it.

Scholes

With the hair color, the skills, and his ability to be a two-way player in the middle of the pitch, it is only fitting that TSG requests that the pride of FC Dallas be the rightful heir to the Ginger Ninja moniker once Paul Scholes playing days are through.

More on Scholes, nicknames, and another redhead, Alexei Lalas, as we converse with the extremely personable Mr. McCarty:

TSG: Hey, nice job on that eye exam?

(McCarty was featured taking an eye exam in a clip from US Soccer.)

Dax: Yeah, I missed one. Got a 20/15.

TSG: We were trying to arrange to bring an eye chart down here. That read “I dig The Shin Guardian” in descending order.

Dax: Ha.

TSG: Okay, let’s get started. Spanish nickname, Irish surname, born in Florida. Do you consider yourself a “global” soccer player?

Dax was nicknamed the “La Flecha Roja” (“The Red Arrow”) by a TV personality.

Dax: <chuckling> Sure, ha….exactly. We were playing a game and we were on the Spanish channel and some commentator just started calling me that they told me. I was like. “That’s cool.” My name’s kind of short…I don’t really need a nickname.

TSG: …it’s got a lot of street cred….it kind of resonates….

Dax: …for sure…

McCarty playing for "The U".....-20....

TSG: Getting right at it, World Cup squad…what are your chances…one of the skills we see that the team needs is someone in the middle moving the ball quickly….you’re kind of that guy….

Dax: You know, that’s certainly one of my skills. As I’ve grown as a player, as a pro–you know I’m going into my 5th year as a pro–that’s a strength I’ve tried to build on. In talking with the coaches here, that’s one of the things that they really like about my game, about being disciplined and getting that ball moving quickly and keeping things moving.

As far as the World Cup, I just got called into my first camp in Denmark and Slovakia and it was a great experience. I was very pleased with that one.

As far as the chances go for the World Cup they aren’t that great, their probably not as great as the chances of some of the other guys on the team.

At the same time anything can happen, guys lose form, guys pick up form and play well. It just all depends on what the coaches see in me and what I can bring to the team. Ultimately, also, what the roster looks like.

Hopefully I do go. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid and we’ll see in a few months.

TSG: This is a standard question that we ask players who grew up Man United fans. We read that you were a United fan, correct?

Dax: Yup, that’s right.

TSG: We asked this of Stu Holden a few months ago. Giggs, Best, Cantona, Scholes, Keane, who do you train with for the day?

"Listen, Scholsey, that FC Dallas kid's got it going on now...I think it's time to...you know...let him have that nickname....

Dax: Scholes, and not just because he looks like me. <GINGER NINJA!>

I like to think that I’m kind of a similar player to him. There’s a lot similarities there; similar position.

TSG: Speaking of…your best position? I know you played a little left back for the Red Stripes once. What’s your best?

Dax: I’m a guy that doesn’t like to really like to put a definition on my position. I like to play in the middle of the field. I think center midfield is my best position, but I can play out wide if need be.

I characterize myself as a two-way midfielder. I like to be able to get forward, help the team score goals, get assists.

But I also like to play defense too. I’ve got know problem sticking a tackle or going for a 50-50 ball.

If I had describe myself I would say two-way midfielder. No preference attacking or holding.

Alexi Lalas

TSG: Alexei Lalas thinks a LeBron James-type player–a player with his build–is the future of soccer. But you’ve got the Maradona’s, the Messi’s, the Romario’s. The George Best’s. Do you see that trend? Yes or no? What do you think about it?

Dax: I think in the future it’s going to be a balance between both types of players. Clearly, you’re going to have more American kids, and more of the athletes playing soccer. They’re going to bring that fast-and-strong mentality to the game that you can’t teach.

But at the same time, there is always going to be a place in the game for the smaller more technical, more skillful players.

If you look at a team like Barcelona, you have Xavi and Ineista in the middle of the field. You’d think they’d get eaten alive by the bigger, faster guys. But in terms of their technical ability, their vision and their passing, that’s not something you can learn, it’s something you’re born with, like size….

I think the smaller guys do it <“move the ball”> a little bit better than the bigger guys. They’re a little quicker, a little more mobile with their low center of gravity…and teams need that.

So I think it will be a balance of both types of players.

TSG: Last question, favorite beer, Shiner Bock?

TSG is teeing up it’s Beer & Soccer Series and the taste test between the Eddie Gaven, Kyle Beckerman and Dax McCarty Pale Ales.

Dax: Nah, I stay away from beer…but I guess I’ll have one or two here and there.

Dax McCarty, MVP....

TSG produces a six pack of the Dax McCarty Pale Ale complete with labels in a cardboard carrying case.

Dax: Wow! That’s really cool. Thanks.

Give it to him–<Dax points to a US Soccer official>–and then when we’re off I’ll actually be able to have some…..

……

Good luck on the web site…..

—–

Dax was the last guy to join up with the rest of the players that were already in the parking lot, but we’re quite sure we could have peppered him with a few more questions and we would have easily obliged.

Dax McCarty, class act. We wish him well in 2010.

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19 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/03 at 7:36 AM

    Good (partial) interview. I think he’s going to continue to grow into a very solid player. He has a little bite to his game, and he has made excellent progress in the last couple of years. He’s a very good passer of the ball. Better yet, even when his passes fail, it tends to be because he didn’t execute, not because he chose the wrong pass.

    BTW, ‘flecha’ is the word you’re looking for. When I see ‘Fletcha’ I think of Chevy Chase. :)

    Reply

  2. Posted by albiceleste_10 on 2010/02/03 at 8:35 AM

    I disagree with the starstruck fanboy tone of this site. And the grammar. You really have a journalism degree?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/03 at 8:46 AM

      @alibliceleste_10

      We try our best right now on the proofreading…it’s difficult with other full time careers…though I am not making excuses.

      What didn’t you like about the interview?

      Within all my research, talking to some of the other players etc. I didn’t find one bad thing said anywhere about Dax McCarty…with the exception of an article about Dax having a falling out with the FC Dallas coach I believe a year or two ago.

      If you know of a conflict or controversy that I am missing or have had another experience, I’d actually love to know about it.

      In person, having conducted in my life not more than maybe 100 interviews, Dax was one of the nicest and easiest people to speak with…the interview is representative of the experience I had with him.

      If I didn’t write it as above, it wouldn’t be genuine.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/03 at 8:49 AM

        Also, check out the Sacha Kljestan interview. TSG was fully prepared to make it uncomfortable for Kljestan.

        And the jury is out on whether he will improve his pitch demeanor, but when we asked him about not being fit for the USMNT because of behavior, he took the questions seriously and offered thoughful answers.

        If someone or some experience is not that way (Check our beer series on watching practice “….while guarded by press officers…) then we’ll tell folks about.

        In all serious, thanks for the criticism, it helps us re-evaluate our writing…

        ….oh and Marvell Wynne getting a 1.5 player rating last time out hardly constitutes us as starstruck fanboy….:>

        ….you didn’t even give us your real email address so we could respond directly and ask for where to improve…c’mon man…

        Reply

    • Posted by bw on 2010/02/03 at 9:19 AM

      they’re US fans mate. plus, we have enough haters among us already. I think the overall positive nature of the site is refreshing. if you don’t like it, go read trecker’s site.

      Reply

    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/02/03 at 4:25 PM

      is this not a site for starstruck fans? hmm….

      Reply

  3. off topic:

    could you do a piece or leave a comment about the racial abuse that Beasley, and Edu for that matter, is getting Glasgow. I know its not really your place to chime in on such matters, but I know you guys have some good insight/answers to what is going on.

    thanks

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/03 at 10:34 AM

      Alex:

      Good suggestion and yes, I will see what I can dig up.

      Let me point you here to the google-reader link: http://theshinguardian.com/2009/08/17/arsenal-celtic-its-like-the-braveheart-of-the-pitch/

      If you haven’t read the book “How Soccer Explains The World” — I highly recommend it. The chapter on the Celtic-Ranger rivalry is very illuminating.

      Thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/03 at 12:09 PM

        Great book.
        And “Soccernomics” is also worth a read.

        Reply

        • Posted by Bob on 2010/02/04 at 12:12 AM

          @GeorgeCross I started reading this book over Christmas break, but have not gotten back to it since then. Do you agree with their first premise that England won’t win the WC until middle and upper class kids start to play football? I thought that argument was a bit of a reach, but who knows?

          Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/03 at 2:29 PM

      I’m going to throw my two pence in:

      As a Brit, I am utterly shocked and disappointed that this is still happening in the UK (at all for that matter). I remember the Everton fans throwing bananas at John Barnes during Merseyside derbies back in the 80s. But I feel since the Premier League formed, the ‘product’ has cleaned itself up and that can be see in the racial make up and demographics you see in the stadium these days – back then, it was a very white, working class male who’d attend. Obviously, there are still idiots and bigots out there, but for the most part, their racist chanting isn’t tolerated anynore.

      Over the years, it has been a well documented fact that black English players (Croatia 2008) and black UK-based players (Viera & Mihajlović; Henry & Arogones – the list is long) have face abuse on the Continent. And I am sure that it is not just ained at English. See Mario Baloteli at Inter too (google it and you will see a long list). Even French politicans have said that the French team doesn’t “look French” regarding the number of non-white players.

      I feel that the FA has done a lot in the last 2 decades (and still need to do more) but their European counterparts have done nothing apart from dish out paltry fines to millionaire players. It is still a major problem in a lot of Eastern Europe, and as such, I was disappointed that UEFA awarded Poland & Ukraine EURO 2012 – some people say you shouldn’t mix sport and politics but I say bollocks – there’s no place for racism in today’s day and age, and if this is what is required to make sure the Polish and Ukranian FA’s take notice and take action, then so be it.

      I will get off my soap box now.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Joe on 2010/02/03 at 10:04 AM

    @alibliceleste_10

    YOU’RE A Haterrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    I got an idea, you go ask for an interview with these guys so they can kick your ass off the field.

    Matt, good interview. Dax is coming up as of late and its nice to see that he’s trying hard. Surprised and also liked that he said he doesn’t think hes going to make it to the WC this year. Step up Ginger Ninja!!

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/03 at 10:27 AM

      He is a troll. If he doesn’t like the content, for what ever reason, he is free not to read it – we are not living in a dictatorship…

      The least he can do is come up with some constructive criticism.

      Reply

  5. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/03 at 10:32 AM

    Hey folks — it’s okay for everyone to have an opinion. It’s best as we always say if it’s expressed in a non-personal way with a little more information behind.

    Let’s keep the community here on the up and up.

    For Dax…I generally liked what I saw in practice and at HDC.

    He needs–like most against Honduras and an issue here with MLS–to be aware that tackle much harder outside MLS…..

    One thing I’d like to see have more observations of is his defense, because he actually seems more like a Xavi to me..the guy who moves the ball through the defense 1/3 and middle pitch.

    I’ll be looking for that this year from him.

    Reply

    • Posted by kaya on 2010/02/03 at 6:18 PM

      Matthew, I saw nothing wrong with the interview… I thought the fanboy comment was a pointless and incorrect criticism. However, I do have allergies to its/it’s, they’re/there/their, you’re/your, etc typos.
      Your blog is thoughtful and well-rounded, and you come out with clever material day in and day out in your spare time… I’m willing to ignore the occasional breakout in grammar hives. At least until this becomes your day job ;)

      Reply

  6. […] Hi Dax, Matt, The Shin Guardian, how you been? (TSG interviewed Dax during January USMNT Camp at HDC.) How are you […]

    Reply

  7. […] the comparisons to Scholes, first way ahead on the Dax McCarty reference. No brainer. Easy one for Scholes later in his […]

    Reply

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