Top Gun inspiration in FC Dallas playoff run

NEW YORK – It’s not everyone that can say their dad was a Top Gun. FC Dallas midfielder Dax McCarty is among the lucky few.

McCarty’s dad, Dart, was a pilot in the Navy for 10 years, working his way up from fighter pilot to the highest rank of Top Gun pilot.

“It made me love the movie Top Gun,” said FCD’s McCarty, who was born after his father retired to become a commercial pilot for the now defunct Eastern Airlines.

“Growing up it meant a lot that he was part of defending our country and definitely something I take with me and having a lot of pride in,” McCarty said.

Although Dart never participated in active combat duty, he flew missions over Vietnam during the armistice, and the pictures and stories have inspired McCarty to this day when he has represented the US on the youth and senior national team levels.

But this Veterans Day is not just about a celebration of patriotism but one of survival. This summer Dart was diagnosed with throat cancer and he has had to fight through chemotherapy and radiation. The results of all the treatments came through in test results received just a couple of weeks ago.

“The PET scan showed that he is cancer free,” McCarty said. “Doctors told him they thought it was a miracle. He recovered very fast and killed it [the cancer] quickly.

“He still has to undergo some treatment but I’m proud how he handled the situation and it makes me want to win for this team [FC Dallas] and for him that much more because I know what he’s been through.”

As if McCarty needed any more motivation. The central midfielder has proven to be one of the top performers in these MLS Cup Playoffs, with his trademark hustle and grit.

If they hope to advance to their first ever MLS Cup final, FC Dallas will need more of the same from McCarty this Sunday at The Home Depot Center in the Western Conference Championship against Los Angeles.

“My grandparents and my dad’s old friend said that he had kind of had that never-say-die mentality and that tough attitude,” McCarty said. “He wanted to be the best and that desire and attitude got him to Top Gun. As a younger kid, he was always pushing me to get to the next level and I have him to thank for any success I’ve experienced.”