Dax McCarty

New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty, shown here in 2003 as the area soccer player of the year for Winter Park High. (JOE KALEITA / March 20, 2003)

Winter Park native Dax McCarty was in Orlando for preseason with the New York Red Bulls, and after his team’s 4-4 tie with Orlando City to close out the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, we got a few minutes to ask him about his thoughts on Major League Soccer coming to Central Florida.

McCarty, a midfielder who has been capped five times for the U.S. national team, attended Winter Park High from 2001-2003 before joining the U.S. under-17 residency in Bradenton.

What does it mean to you to see Orlando awarded with an MLS franchise?

It’s exciting. I think it’s exciting for everyone who grew up in this area. You saw the teams in Miami and Tampa, they weren’t successful, and I think we’ve learned from that. I think Orlando is doing it the right way. They have good ownership and good coaching, obviously they’re a good team because they’ve won a couple championships in USL. I think they have drawn every game here [at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic]. They’re a good team, they keep the ball pretty well, they score goals and they’re a tough team to play against. I think with a few additions, if they get some confidence from this coming season in USL, coming into MLS I think they can do some damage.

Growing up did you ever think there’d be a team in Orlando? Are you surprised how quickly it came together?

I thought it was always a possibility, but I didn’t think I would’ve seen it in my time of being a professional. I thought it would take a little bit longer. As soon as Austin moved their team to Orlando, you could see that the fan base was steadily growing each year, you could see that they were building a championship-caliber team every year. This was the inevitable process. There’s not an MLS team in the Southeast anywhere, so I think this is a big get for the state of Florida and for me being from here it’s exciting to see the team come into MLS.

You still have family here, are they Orlando City fans? Could you ever see yourself landing back in the hometown?

Yeah, my family has seen a couple of games. I think just being a soccer family it’s great to see. Obviously they’re getting a stadium soon. For me, I’ve always thought about being able to play in front of friends and family. I’ve always said I’m really happy in New York, I don’t want to leave New York anytime soon, but obviously if I could finish out my career and play a year or two in Orlando and play in front of my friends and family I would definitely not say no to that opportunity.

 

E-mail Paul Tenorio at ptenorio@orlandosentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @OSKnights.