Dax McCarty puts his head in his hands

The New York Red Bulls were dealt a major blow on Sunday, when Dax McCarty went down with a right leg injury that will keep him out for the next 4-6 weeks.

The Red Bulls captain will likely miss at least five combined games in MLS and CONCACAF Champions League play due to the injury, and could be out for as many as eight if his recovery takes the full six weeks

New York will be missing far more than McCarty’s emotional leadership while he’s sidelined. McCarty is the Red Bulls’ midfield metronome, leading the club and placing among the league’s best in usage rate.

Calculated by dividing the number of passes a player attempts per 90 minutes by the number of passes his team attempts per 90 minutes, usage rate tells us what percentage of a team’s total passes are attempted by an individual player.

As players that constantly find themselves around the ball, central midfielders usually have the highest usage rates of any players. Despite playing as part of a three-man central midfield triangle with Felipe and Sacha Kljestan, McCarty is no exception, currently boasting the sixth highest usage rate in all of MLS at 14.94 percent.

With Dax McCarty out, Red Bulls need Sean Davis, Felipe to step up -  https://league-cms.mlsdigital.net/s3/files/styles/image_default/s3/images/Dax-Usage.jpg?itok=6vCRLCT2&c=05ae557d59e6645d2ec16447ab32f5f1

Second-year Red Bulls Homegrown Player Sean Davis will likely fill-in for McCarty for the duration of the veteran's absence. Unsurprisingly, Davis hasn’t been as important of a piece as McCarty in his four starts, posting a usage rate of 11.97 percent. That’s not quite to the level of McCarty, who, it should be noted, has started alongside Davis in two of the younger player’s four league starts this year.

If the second-place Red Bulls, who currently trail East leaders New York City FC by four points, want to improve on their spot in the standings without sacrificing the basic principles of their play while McCarty is out, they’ll need for both Davis and Felipe to step up. Both players will have to shoulder some of the load in replacing McCarty, who – in addition to his solid defensive work – is so often the man that plays the key pass that gets the New York attack rolling.