FRISCO, Texas — Since Dax McCarty picked up a right quadriceps injury against Real Salt Lake on July 17, FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman has been using rookie midfielder Eric Alexander to fill the gap. The Indiana University product has played well and has since registered two goals and two assists for the club.
But Hyndman still wants a fully healthy McCarty as the MLS season transitions to the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“[McCarty and I] had a good talk yesterday,” the FCD manager said. “We wanted to make sure that he knew how important he is to this team and also for our run in trying to win MLS Cup that we need him on the field. Eric Alexander has been outstanding, but doesn’t bring what Dax brings through experience.”
McCarty made his first appearance since his injury on Sept. 16 against the New York Red Bulls, coming on as a sub in a 2-2 draw. Since then, the fifth-year midfielder has started two of Dallas’ four games, but he has only gone the full 90 minutes once, another 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution on Sept. 22.
“I feel like I’m still a little ways off,” McCarty said. “I don’t feel like I’ve come back 100 percent just yet. I think that’s normal with the injury I had. I’m starting to feel better each day.”
“It’s been a long journey. I’ve never had an injury like that. I’m just trying to get back, get my sharpness back and my toughness back. Just the game sharpness is the most important thing.”
The FCD stalwart didn’t start in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw against the Colorado Rapids, but came on after center back George John had to leave the game with a tight left hamstring.
“I didn’t feel like I was at my best coming in against Colorado — a tough game to come into giving up a goal quickly,” McCarty admitted. “In the second half, we were under a lot of pressure. I wasn’t as involved in the game as I should have been and that was frustrating.”
McCarty has appeared in 19 games this year, recording one goal and two assists. FCD are currently riding a 19-game unbeaten streak, an MLS record. Dallas’ trip to Rio Tinto Stadium will test that mark against RSL’s own 24-game unbeaten streak at home. For McCarty personally, the match has added significance.
“That was the game I was injured in,” he said of the RSL matchup. “That was a good win for our team. In the second half, we came out and outplayed them. That was great for me to personally see from the bench. I would have loved to have been out there.”
“This game coming up is an opportunity for not only myself but our whole team to prove we’re contenders for MLS Cup. If I’m part of it, then great and I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team win.”