Nashville SC "valuing the undervalued" in acquiring Dax McCarty, Dave Romney

Dax McCarty – Chicago Fire – strikes ball

When Nashville SC had the opportunity to pursue Chicago Fire captain and respected MLS veteran Dax McCarty, the club saw it as a no-brainer. 

The two-time Supporters' Shield winner, two-time MLS All-Star and 2015 Best XI honoree not only comes with appealing technical ability, but has earned a reputation as a leader and consummate professional. Nashville have long seen McCarty as a potential foundational piece both in the center of midfield and in the locker room.

Thankfully for the expansion side, the feeling between player and club was mutual.

“Once my agent got wind of interest from Nashville and the clubs got together, my wife and I spoke about it, we thought it was best for all parties if I would move on and if the Fire would acquiesce to my hope to end up in Nashville," McCarty told reporters on a media conference call on Thursday. "I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the Chicago Fire the way they handled the situation. They handled it extremely classy. As a veteran player, you don’t want the club to just pawn you off to the highest bidder. You want the club to take your values, needs and desires into account. The Fire did that, and I’ll be forever grateful.”

McCarty was acquired by Nashville from Chicago in exchange for $50,000 in General Allocation Money, $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and a second-round MLS Superdraft selection during the league's two-day trade window following MLS Cup. 

"What Dax provides for us both on and off the field — he’s succeeded at every level he’s played at," Nashville GM Mike Jacobs said.  "For us, as a first-year team to have the leadership of someone like Dax both as far as what he offers with his teammates, then the things he does on the field with how we’ll attack and defend, make him a key piece of the puzzle in a variety of different ways.”

McCarty is more than just a leader, of course. He can still ball out.

“It’s easy in the modern game to paint midfielders by their role on the field by numbers," Jacobs said. "An attacking midfielder is a No. 10, defensive midfielder a No. 6 and box-to-box a No. 8. What I’ve always appreciated about Dax, he’s really a universal-type midfielder. He influences games on both sides of the ball.”

Alongside McCarty, Nashville unveiled another new member of their inaugural roster on Thursday. Defender Dave Romney was acquired from the LA Galaxy in exchange for $225,000 TAM as well as $25,000 GAM in incentives. 

“We’ve talked internally about valuing the undervalued, it’s easy to see the potential Dave has both as a left center back and a left back," Jacobs said. "Not only for us and our staff when we look at video, analytics, and talk to our coaching staff, but even around the league, it was very apparent that Dave was someone who is very well respected in regards to things he does, like winning 1v1s and his ability on the ball.”

Romney agrees with the notion of being undervalued. 

“I did research over the past four seasons at LA and calculated our points per game and goals against with me on or off the field," Romney said. "It was better every single year with me on the field. Sometimes coaches look at the eye test and stuff like that, but I pride myself on what I’ve done over the last four years. I’ve tried to present that to the Galaxy, but nothing would ever work. It was tough to find my footing when I would constantly be started over by someone I would statistically do better than.”

Per Opta, the Galaxy have a similar PPG when Romney has started vs. when he hasn't over his five-year career. 

“I’ve watched bundles of footage of Dave and what strikes me about him as an individual is someone who has played 100 league games but is coming towards the prime of his career," head coach Gary Smith said. "A lot of his natural characteristics of being calm and collected in tense situations are unique. He comes as a real important link on the backline.”

Smith added that he sees Romney as a center back, though he is able to play both in the middle and as a left back.

The players are the eighth and ninth players on Nashville's inaugural MLS roster, which will soon grow with the Expansion Draft on Tuesday.