The New York Red Bulls haven’t skipped a beat since losing Dax McCarty to an injury a couple of weeks ago, earning a road draw at the LA Galaxy, beating the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena and getting their CONCACAF Champions League campaign off to a 1-0-1 start since their captain went down with a small tibial plateau fracture on July 31 at Chicago.
One of the main reasons for the Red Bulls sustained success without McCarty has been his replacement, Sean Davis. The second-year Homegrown midfielder has started all four of New York’s matches since McCarty got hurt, forcing an own goal in CCL play against Antigua on Aug. 3, scoring in the draw at LA on Aug. 7 and notching a goal and two assists in the win over Montreal last Saturday.
Davis has drawn rave reviews for his solid play, including from McCarty, who spoke about the 23-year-old in a halftime interview from El Salvador during the radio broadcast of the Red Bulls’ 1-1 draw at Alianza on Tuesday.
“I think myself and [midfielder] Sacha [Kljestan] and [head coach] Jesse [Marsch], I think we’ve stressed from day one that Sean Davis is a fantastic player and he’s just a guy that needs an opportunity,” McCarty said.
“He’s a guy that trains harder than anyone else and it’s not just the fact that he trains hard, he’s a great player. He’s a very, very talented player and I think the fans are starting to see that now. I’ve always told Sean, ‘Be patient, because you’ll get your opportunity.’ And he’s a great kid, he always says, ‘I hate the fact that this opportunity came from an injury,’ but I said, ‘Listen, these things happen. There’s never going to be a perfect scenario where you get an opportunity, but you have to take it, you have to run with it and we have full confidence in you.’ And he’s taken it and he’s ran with it. He’s going to make my job tough when I’m coming back and I’m trying to knock him out of that perch, but that’s a great thing.”
McCarty, who is now two weeks into his projected four-to-six week recovery from his right leg injury, also gave an update on his health, saying that he’s “ahead of schedule” in his rehab.
“It’s going great, going really well. I’m no doctor, but if I had to give a self-assessment I would have to say I’m ahead of schedule,” he said. “My leg and knee feel very good, no more swelling. I lost the crutches a week ago and I’m already ramping up my cardio, you saw me on the bike today, trying to break a little sweat, trying to stay fit. I don’t want to lose any fitness as we make this push for the playoffs and obviously in CONCACAF, but I feel great. I would say from the initial diagnosis of four to six weeks, fingers crossed everything goes well I can be on the lower end of that.
“I’m a guy that hates being out injured. I wish I was out there fighting with the guys right now, but I’m trying to be the best cheerleader I can be.”