Techin’ in with NY Red Bulls’ Dax McCarty

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
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Dax McCarty Neilson Barnard/Getty ImagesThe New York Red Bulls' midfielder played "FIFA 13" on the PS3 at an event last month, but he prefers the Nintendo 64.
Despite injuries, the New York Red Bulls are sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference of MLS with three games left in the regular season. Midfielder Dax McCarty, No. 11, has been the Red Bulls' glue, starting in a team-leading 30 games and chipping in three goals and two assists.

McCarty grew up fast on the field, graduating from high school a year early and enrolling at the famous IMG Academy that birthed tennis stars like Maria Sharapova and Andre Agassi. At age 17, he left to play for two years at the University of North Carolina before being drafted in the first round by FC Dallas. McCarty also played for D.C. United prior to being traded to New York in June 2011.

When he’s not playing soccer, the 25-year-old is usually playing on his favorite gadget -- the iPad -- or taking it old-school with his Nintendo 64 (obsession: "Mario Kart," fave character: Toad).

I sat down with Dax to chat about the USA’s growing interest in soccer, his thoughts on new technologies in the game and, believe it or not, his T-Mobile family plan.

What smartphone are you on these days?

Technology and the McCartys don’t mix. The McCarty family is still on a T-Mobile family plan. And yes, I am still using a slide phone. But I really like this slide text feature. I don’t even use the keyboard.

What do you think of Twitter?

Way better way to show fans a different side of you. I like to say something that makes people think, "You’re not boring.”

Any Twitter advice?

If you have to think twice about something, don’t send it.

What are your thoughts on FIFA green-lighting goal-line technology?

It’s a good thing -- it’s a good change. Goal-line technology is the most essential piece in eliminating the single most controversial aspect of the sport. Referees in any sport have a hard enough time as it is calling a game fairly without getting their heads ripped off by players, coaches and media. The last thing they need is to be second-guessing whether a goal was scored or not.

Purists might say that adding such technology is going to take away from what makes our sport so great, but I say getting the most important aspect of the game (scoring goals) right is/should be priority No. 1. If the U.S. national team makes the World Cup final in Brazil with the chance to make history, scores a great goal that gets cleared off the line but the assistant referee isn't in position to make the call, all hell would break loose. Goal-technology eliminates all doubt, and that is a change everyone can agree upon.

MLS has also introduced miCoach Elite System for the 2013 season, which will track an athlete’s performance. Showcased in the 2012 All-Star Game, the miCoach sensor transmits more than 200 pieces of data a second from the chip in the athlete’s jersey. A coach (and fans) will be able to see a player’s speed, field position, distance and heart rate, among other data. As a player, how do you feel about this?

I think the fans will react especially well to it because it will give them a better idea into players’ tendencies. They can tell the difference between different players during a game. My job is different than Thierry Henry’s job. Fans will see the difference between how far I've run and how far he's run, and how many chances he's had to create opportunities for shots on goal. And for coaches -- they no longer have to trust what they see on the field but will have the hard data. Comparing data from past games and results, that would be great for them to tell a player what they need to do differently.

What are the last three apps you downloaded on your iPad?

(1) "Rat On A Snowboard"; (2) "Family Feud"; and (3) "Fruit Ninja."

Will America ever fully embrace soccer?

I think we are seeing an increased interest in MLS. The World Cup definitely helped. And in terms of viewership, we are right behind NFL, MLB and NBA.

And finally, one thing you can learn about Dax via Twitter:

Katie Linendoll is an Emmy Award-winning technology expert contributing to ESPN, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. She contributes tech segments to CNN and hosts a tech show on Spike TV. She has a degree in Information Technology New Media from Rochester Institute of Technology and is a diehard Buffalo Bills fan.

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