Updated: Dec 11, 2019
NASHVILLE, TN - Nashville SC announced Tuesday morning the acquisition of midfielder Dax McCarty from Chicago Fire. Nashville sent $50,000 in General Allocation Money and $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money to Chicago, as well as their second round (28th overall) 2021 SuperDraft pick.
“Dax is a proven leader and winner and has done so in every club he’s been in throughout his career. He embodies the character and values of what our club will be on and off the field,” said Nashville SC GM Mike Jacobs.
McCarty is a 13 year veteran of MLS, having spent time with FC Dallas (2006-2011), DC United (2011), New York Red BUlls (2011-2016) and Chicago Fire (2017-2019). McCarty has served as the club captain for DC, New York, and Chicago.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be joining Nashville SC for the club’s inaugural MLS season and beyond,” said McCarty. “The buzz around the club is easy to feel and see. The opportunity and challenge of building something special from the beginning will be a unique experience that I feel privileged to be a part of. I can’t wait to get to Nashville and start preparing for the 2020 season.”
McCarty is a true holding midfielder who fits the model Nashville SC are building of players who can pressure opponents both with and without the ball. He's been one of the most consistent defensive midfielders in MLS over the past 7-10 years, and is one of the best at playing third line passes to split defenses. He's not just a midfielder who breaks up play, but is really good at winning the ball and playing it into space in transition. He's also durable; he started 32 matches for Chicago in 2018, and has missed just 17 games to injury over the course of his 13 year career.
The role of holding midfielder often goes unnoticed, but it is one of the most crucial positions in the system that Gary Smith ran in USL. The two midfielders are tasked with breaking up plays before they get to the backline. It's their job to set the tempo of the game in possession. They're often the ones who play entry passes into the final third to break through the defensive lines. McCarty has been one of the best in the league at this role (second only to Ozzie Alonso) for the better part of a decade and for multiple sides. He's an invaluable player for a first-year side. On paper, Nashville has a very strong midfield core that won't look out of place in MLS. For a team that has the goal of being "as competitive as possible straightaway", that's huge.
McCarty will join Aníbal Godoy and Derrick Jones in central midfield, and with Hany Mukhtar, Randall Leal and Daniel Ríos ahead of them, it looks like a very sound spine for Nashville. Based on these signings, as well as comments from Mike Jacobs and Gary Smith, it looks like this side is built for a 4-2-3-1. With pace in the front line and ball winners in midfield, I expect Nashville to put a lot of energy into the press, looking to win the ball and get it into space quickly.
Mike Jacobs has spoken about the value of high quality players with MLS experience, and the signing of McCarty reinforces that. McCarty, Godoy and David Accam have 586 MLS appearances between them, and will bring a wealth of experience to the first year side.
Signed for $400,000 in allocation money just two years ago, $100,000 plus a 2nd round draft pick seems like really good business for Nashville SC. McCarty's $700,000 salary in 2019 puts him firmly in the TAM range, giving Nashville plenty of room to work with the salary cap.
Transaction: Nashville SC signs Dax McCarty from the Chicago Fire in exchange for $50,000 in General Allocation Money, $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and a second round pick (28th overall) in the 2021 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
Weight: 141 lbs.
Birthdate: Apr. 30, 1987
Hometown: Winter Park, FL
Nationality: United States of America
Last club: Chicago Fire
How Acquired: Signed by Nashville SC from the Chicago Fire on Nov. 12, 2019.