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Friday, September 16, 2011
Fan favorite Dax McCarty returns to Pizza Hut Park

By Todd Date

On Saturday night, Dax McCarty returns to the place he called home for much of the last five years, Pizza Hut Park. But this time, the former FC Dallas midfielder will do so as a visitor as he now plays for the New York Red Bulls. McCarty has actually changed teams twice since FCD left him exposed in the 2010 Expansion Draft.

Vancouver first took him in that draft before trading him to DC United. But midway through this season, he was dealt to New York. And on July 23 when FCD and the Red Bulls met at Red Bull Arena, McCarty was in the first 11 for the first time against his former side.  That match ended in a 2-2 draw but McCarty and his new team get a second crack at Dallas on Saturday night at the Oven.

FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman admits that on one hand, he is a bit surprised to see McCarty change teams twice. But then again, he’s not considering that player moves often come down to situational factors, which he definitely feels are at the root of him being traded by DC earlier this year.

“What ends up happening is you’re looking for something and you think you have the answer. Then, the player comes in and you go, we have that already. Maybe this wasn’t a good move. Maybe we need a flank player, a fullback or a back-up defender or back-up goalie, so now you move a player on again. I don’t think it really has anything to the quality of the player. I think it’s more situational,” Hyndman said. “I would expect to see Dax McCarty have a very good performance tomorrow because again, the external motivation of being back here.”

And even though he’s going to be playing for the enemy, his former teammates will welcome him with open arms.

“Dax is great friends with so many of us. Before the game, it’s always nice to see someone that you’re close with and haven’t seen in a while,” FCD defender Zach Loyd said. “We’re just focusing on us right now, us coming out and getting three points and getting in these playoffs.”

Fellow defender Ugo Ihemelu added: “I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure the fans are going to be excited to see him. He’s going to be excited to be back here because I know he really enjoyed his time in Dallas. I think it’s going to be a good game. He’s a really good player with a lot of talent. So, he’s going to be dangerous. Whenever a guy comes back to his old team to play at home, that’s just a little extra motivation and that can make a big difference. I’m sure he’s going to be out to make an impact on this game and leave his mark.”

Ihemelu’s partner in the Dallas central defense, George John, also weighed in on facing McCarty for the first time in Frisco.

“Dax, I played two years with him here, always a great guy. I don’t think it’s going to be weird,” John said. “I’ve played against a lot of old friends within the league. It’s just part of the job. I’m looking forward to seeing him.”

FCD starting goalkeeper Kevin Hartman also offered his thoughts.

“I wouldn’t consider it weird. I think certainly it’s a great opportunity to see someone that we have a great deal of respect for,” Hartman said. “I think that you always understand that there’s that added stimulation for him to score. You want to make sure that you try to keep things in check as best as possible but you can’t over concentrate on one thing. You don’t want to go out of your way to think ill of a friend.”