FRISCO, Texas — It had been a while since Dax McCarty had been on the field for FC Dallas. One day short of three months to be exact. So, when the fifth-year midfielder returned on Thursday against New York in a reserve role, it was a welcome sight for FCD fans as well as head coach Schellas Hyndman.
McCarty came on in the 28th minute after FCD captain Daniel Hernandez left the game with an injured hamstring. He was tested early in the first half when Brek Shea was sent off for a hard tackle on Red Bulls defender Chris Albright. He moved into his old role as the linking midfielder with rookie Eric Alexander, who had filled in at McCarty’s position over the last six games, moving to Shea’s spot on the left flank.
“[McCarty] did very well,” Hyndman said. “He did much better than we thought he would just because he’s been out for eight weeks. I think he’s kept his fitness level up, which was a big help for us. By keeping his fitness level up, he’s been able to step on the field and go 60 minutes, which was huge.”
McCarty had been bothered by a strained right quadriceps since leaving at halftime of a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake on July 17. He missed eight games before returning against the Red Bulls.
“It felt good,” McCarty said on Friday. “I was a little tired [afterwards]. Mentally and physically, I knew I was prepared for whatever they needed from me. I felt a little heavy legged toward the last five to 10 minutes, but, for the most part, I felt OK.”
The 23-year-old midfielder could make his first start since the RSL game on Wednesday as New England visit Pizza Hut Park. With captain Daniel Hernandez likely out for several weeks with a pulled left hamstring, Alexander could slide over to fill in and give way to McCarty to start at the linking role.
Hyndman has no reservations putting him there against the Revs.
“Yes, I think [McCarty could start there],” the FCD manager said. “I was hoping to give him 20 minutes the other day and he ended up playing 60. I thought he played well considering we were down a man.”
And McCarty is clearly looking forward to returning to the FCD starting 11.
“I’ve been training for two weeks now,” McCarty said. “It’s all a matter of finding my form and my game shape as quick as possible. That’s my main goal, to try to continue to contribute to the team any way I can. I definitely think I’m prepared."
"If I get a chance to go 90 or whatever it may be, I’m going to be ready for it and try to help the team out.”