FC Dallas was kind enough to get us a few minutes with midfielder Dax McCarty this week.
We wanted to interview Dax because–and as he reiterates below–with Colorado likely keying on David Ferreira in the midfield, Dax’s performance in the attack will be integral to FC Dallas raising the Cup on Sunday night.
TSG: Hi Dax, Matthew, The Shin Guardian, how you been? (TSG interviewed Dax during January USMNT Camp at HDC.)
Dax: Good man, I’m good.
TSG: Let’s get into it in just a sec…but first, did you watch the USMNT on Wednesday. What did you think?
Dax: Watched the whole game. It was definitely an exciting game. A lot of younger players got their first caps. I thought the US was very organized defensively and there was some pretty amazing goalkeeping by Brad Guzan.
Once Coach Bradley started to make some changes in the 2nd half, things got going. It was exciting to see the future of the national so you will get run out. And to cap it off the goal by the Agudelo kid…
TSG: Well we look forward to you floating some passes up field to Agudelo on the national scene in the future.
Dax: Oh man, I hope so.
TSG: You guys played a flat-out awesome game against Los Angeles this past Sunday. Was that the best game for Dallas on the season?
Dax: Absolutely, hands down. I don’t think we put together a more complete performance than we did against the Galaxy. The first 15 to 20 minutes we were on our back foot.
But we learned to weather storms this year.
And that’s why you have a guy like Kevin Hartman in goal who is right up there with David Ferreira for MVP candidates in my opinion. He’s been that good for us this year in my view.
That was an incredible game to be a part of. It’s the type of game as a player that you want to play in, day in and day out.
To be able to say we beat the Supporter Shield winners in their own stadium, 3-0, is something that I won’t ever forget.
TSG: Let’s break it down a little, tactically how did you do it?
Dax: I think the decision to start Atiba Harris up top was a very big decision for us. Atiba I thought was outstanding. We knew that LA was a physical team and they rely heavily on set pieces.
So we had to put some size in the game and that Atiba was up top was huge in that he gave us an outlet for the guys in the midfield.
Atiba did a great job of holding th ball up. He brings others into the attack and he works his socks off. A couple of goals came directly from his work hard
And then team speed had a lot to do with it.
We’re extremely fast on the wing and we caused the Galaxy a lot of problems.
TSG: I want to be honest that I picked Los Angeles to take that game…
Dax: Oh, no problem
TSG: Well, it wasn’t that I thought Dallas didn’t have it them.
What impressed me the most was coming off a victory over RSL and beating one style of play, you faced a different style and totally shifted and dictated the tempo.
What’s the shift this week as you prepare for the Rapids?
Dax: We’re a team that is honestly able to play a number of ways. We have veterans with a lot of experience that know how to adapt to the game.
We have a number of different players and we can shift a little to address different types of teams and different types of players.
But, we don’t change up how we approach the game.
We like to possess the ball and attack. And then…hit teams on the counter.
Our team speed on th counterattack you would have to say is the best in the league.
For Colorado, to be completely honest, we just finished the first day of training and today (Wednesday) was more about getting a run out and the legs loose.
Not too much tactical on the session today.
I’m sure once we get to Toronto, we’re going to start working on that.
TSG: Let’s take a shot at it, the tactics…something that I’ve heard a lot this week…well the midfield of Colorado is getting a lot of press. The common statement I hear is “teams don’t like facing the Rapids’ midfield because Pablo and Jeff specifically, will wear you down defensively.”
What does the Dallas midfield have to do against Colorado’s?
Dax: Yeah, well, let’s give them all the credit in the world; they’re two top quality players.
Pablo’s been doing it for a number of years and has been a tremendous national team player. Jeff ‘s been on the national team also and did a great job in New England before Colorado.
One of things they do so well is have the disciple to complement each other. When one goes forward, the other always stays back and vice versa.
The first thing we have to do is match their physicality.
They are very good at disrupting how we’re going to want to play.
We’re also going to have to move the ball through the midfield quickly and find the feet of David Ferreira very early.
They’ll be keying in on stopping so it’s my job to be very involved in the attack and provide an outlet for Daniel Hernandez from the back.
TSG: Colorado’s arguably got the best forwards in the league. Do you play an extremely high defensive line against them and take chances with the over the top ball to a guy like Cummings or do you sit back, pack it in a bit more and try to disrupt their attack that way?
Dax: We’re probably going to come out like we do most games with a high line, high pressure and high-pressing attack.
If they get space in the midfield, then they’ll be able to pick out Casey and Cummings, to of the best forwards in the league.
You can definitely expect to see us with high pressure and deny their forwards service. That’s critical.
TSG: What’s the so-dubbed “X factor” that the media is missing in this one?
Dax: You know, I really think the defenses for both teams are going to have the biggest say in the one.
Obviously Kevin Hartman’s been getting great press and rightfully so. He’s been the leader of a backline that has been tremendous for us all year. We’ve had injuries, players in and out of the line-up and young guys back there…but our defense has been outstanding.
And then you look on the other side of it. Drew Moor–whose a good friend–has been really good as has Marvell. You could say they’ve had a good run largely do to how well they’ve played in the back.
TSG: Thanks so much Dax for the time on tactics. Any special preparations for a championship match on game day?
Dax: Not going to change a thing; I’m not superstitious. Game day is pretty easy. Sleep in, more rest in the morning, light breakfast, relax, walk around Toronto and shake my legs.
Have lunch, take a nap between the pre-game meal.
And once game time comes, I’ll take a shower to wake myself up, put on my head phones and start focusing on the game.
TSG: Okay, last question, and we’ve got to follow-up with this. Some good friends at TSG, the Die Hipster Brewing Company, made a Dax McCarty Pale Ale that we delivered to you. They loved it so much they made “Dax II” earlier this year…..
Dax: That’s awesome. That’s fantastic news.
TSG: So they wanted to–did you like it? And what can they do with the next version.
Dax: Definitely liked it. You gave me the beer after the national team camp in January. I couldn’t drink it then, but was able to a few weeks later.
Really did enjoy it . Very good, hearty beer.
You know, I’d love to see this explored into something I can start putting out to all my friends and more people.
And if you got some extra cases, my parents would love it as well. Pretty cool thing to have a beer named after you.
TSG: Well the guys and I think a Dax McCarty Celebration Ale may be in store for the holidays…and Sunday night.
Dax: Oh man….
TSG: Thanks so much for your time Dax. We always enjoy talking to you. People should know you’re a very affable, gregarious guy and your always great to speak with.
Dax: Aw man I appreciate it. Make sure you root for FC Dallas.
TSG: That’s our pick for the Final.
Dax McCarty…ready to celebrate….
Up next: Macoumba Kandji from the Colorado Rapids….