Dax McCarty has been an injection of talent and leadership on the field for the Chicago Fire this season as well as a boost to media covering the team looking for a good quote.
In his six months with the Fire, McCarty has provided killer quotes and sound bites on multiple occasions. ESPN's Jeffrey Carlisle went to the well and picked up some notable thoughts from McCarty about his performance and the national team's as a whole at the Gold Cup, which closes out group play on Sunday.
McCarty, who started the 1-1 tie against Panama and came off the bench in a 3-2 win against Martinique, said the team knows it hasn't played well yet. With the Fire, McCarty has been one of the most consistent players on the team, but his performances haven't been as solid in the Gold Cup.
"It's funny, I've been having one of the best years of my career in terms of consistency, in terms of being really good for Chicago, playing at a high level," McCarty said in Carlisle's story. "I probably had my worst game of the entire year -- with the national team or with Chicago -- against Panama. That was frustrating."
McCarty also commented on how a lot of the newcomers to the national team have "looked a little bit anxious." This doesn't sound all that different from when McCarty said the Fire still had "a long way to go" back in April.
Fans of the national team fans will be hoping the U.S. men have the same type of turnaround that the Fire enjoyed not long after McCarty's comments.
Dax McCarty has been a key cog for the Chicago Fire this season and now he's trying to prove he can be a key player for the U.S. national team.
McCarty played all 90 minutes for the U.S. in the Gold Cup opener Saturday in Nashville. The match ended a 1-1 tie against Panama.
After being virtually frozen out by manager Jurgen Klinsmann, McCarty has been getting regular call-ups under Bruce Arena.
The Gold Cup represents a golden opportunity for McCarty. He has been called in for World Cup qualifiers, but hasn't seen the field. Arena is using the Gold Cup to see some of the reserve and fringe players and find out if anyone deserves more of a look with the World Cup just under a year away.
As a result, McCarty is now expected to get regular minutes and Saturday's game makes it seem that he will. Saturday was his first appearance in a competitive match. It was his eighth cap, but the previous seven were all in friendlies for the 30-year-old.
McCarty said "there was a level of frustration" regarding his lack of call-ups under Klinsmann in a Washington Post story that came out before the tournament began.
“I felt like I deserved more of a chance than I had got, but this is how sports work," McCarty told Steven Goff of the Post. "Some coaches just have preferences for other guys. That’s how it goes. There’s no secret formula where a coach plugs information into a computer and spits out a name. Maybe Jurgen thinks I’m a really good player, and maybe Jurgen thinks I’m a great player in MLS but just doesn’t see it translate to another level.”
McCarty is getting that chance under Arena, and if he wants to push for more playing time, or at least a spot on the World Cup roster, the Gold Cup is an important tournament for him. The same goes for most of the rest of the Gold Cup roster.
Saturday's game wasn't a strong start for the team, but the U.S. will be heavily favored to beat the two remaining opponents in group play, Martinique and Nicaragua, and advance to the quarterfinals.
Dax McCarty and David Accam have gotten used to playing on the same team this year with the Chicago Fire, but the two went up against each other on Saturday.
McCarty was playing for the U.S. national team and Accam suited up for Ghana as the two national teams met in a friendly in East Hartford, Conn. The match was a warmup for the Americans in advance of the Gold Cup.
The U.S. won 2-1 with goals from Dom Dwyer and Kellyn Acosta.
Both Fire players started. McCarty played all 90 minutes in central midfield. Accam was subbed out at halftime for the visitors.
Accam also appeared off the bench against Mexico on June 28 in a Gold Cup warm up for the Mexicans. He played 31 minutes in a 1-0 loss in Houston.
Accam will now rejoin the Fire and could be available for the team’s match at Portland on July 5. However, that game will be played on turf and Accam just sat out two matches, at Saint Louis FC and New England, that were played on turf.
McCarty will remain with the U.S. for the Gold Cup. The Americans’ first game is July 8 against Panama.
MLS will go on break once the group stage starts. The Fire’s next game after heading to Portland is July 22 at New York City FC.