DALLAS — The 2011 adidas MLS Player Combine is just days away, and like every other attendee, Stephen McCarthy is making his final preparations before heading to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., later this week.
McCarthy, a 6-foot-4-inch UNC midfielder who hails from Dallas suburb Colleyville, was back home in Dallas this past weekend getting ready for the showcase. In fact, he took only three days off between when the Tar Heels' season ended at the 2010 NCAA Men’s College Cup and when he started working out for the combine.
“I’ve been doing a longer distance training program, sort of a 5K training thing," he said. "I did it one summer and really liked it. I’ve been doing that every day. It’s some speed work with a speed work day and a longer distance day.”
“Every day, I’m doing usually multiple things," he added. "I’m always running, [and] every day playing. It’s pretty intense, but I think it’s getting me to where I need to be because all I’ve heard about the combine is make sure you’re fit.”
While McCarthy feels he will be well prepared for this weekend’s events, there are two areas of the combine he admits he doesn’t know too much about.
“Before, I guess they didn’t have agility testing and speed testing; I guess this is the first year," He said. "No one could really tell me about that. So I’m just winging it about what that will be like. I have a trainer that one of my Texans coaches hooked me up with to get ready for that.”
And as someone who grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, he admits he can’t help imagine what it would be like if FC Dallas were to take him on draft day.
“It would be amazing," he said. "Just having the family and the friend base here would be incredible. It would be ideal to have people that you know and love around you and be able to do your job on the field while being able to see all of them.”
McCarthy, who represented the US at the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil, spent two years at Santa Clara before transferring to Chapel Hill as a junior. At UNC he played much of his time at defensive midfield before switching to a more attacking role as a senior. He appeared in 18 games in 2010, scoring two goals and adding one assist despite missing nine contests due to injury midway through the year.
For McCarthy, it doesn’t matter where his new coaches put him, being on the field remains the most important thing.
“I’ve always loved defensive center midfield and played that my whole life until this last season at UNC when I got kind of bumped up to attacking mid," he said. "I didn’t really think I knew what I was doing, but I loved it and did fine. "
He also realizes that with his size, moving to center back could be another possibility. "Either [position] would be awesome to play," he said. "I know MLS likes big center backs, so if I get put there, I’ll do my best there, too.”