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