Sean Davis of the New York Red Bulls

HARRISON, N.J. – An injury to captain Dax McCarty might be a serious blow for the New York Red Bulls, but it will open the opportunity for one of their young players to step into the starting lineup.

Expectations were high for Sean Davis coming into 2016, especially after a solid rookie season last year that included some stellar displays in the USL and MLS. But so far this season, Davis has 13 appearances and just four starts with the first team, the byproduct of a logjam at center midfield for the Red Bulls. With captain McCarty, MLS All-Star Sacha Kljestan and the steady Felipe tough to dislodge, minutes have been scarce for Davis.

Since Jesse Marsch became head coach of the Red Bulls last offseason, McCarty has been an automatic in the center of the midfield with 53 starts in the league. But with McCarty out for the next 4-6 weeks with a tibia fracture, Davis now slots into the lineup with something to prove. 

On Wednesday night, the youngster started and went 90 minutes in the center of the midfield in the Red Bulls' 3-0 win over Antigua GFC in the CONCACAF Champions League.

“Ninety minutes, so that's great. And match fitness is really important for any player, so I felt really comfortable out there, really confident,” Davis said after the match. “I thought the group had a really good match and I think this, again, builds momentum going into a big game on Sunday.”

That match, of course, is a visit to the LA Galaxy (9:30 pm ET, FS1, MLS LIVE in Canada), which will serve as a measuring stick for a New York team that after a rough spell has leveled off their performance in recent weeks.

Against Antigua, Davis had a strong showing. His corner kick in the game’s 15th minute set up the Red Bulls' first goal, and he was impressive in his defensive responsibilities, bottling up the middle and clogging Antigua’s passing channels.

Davis was smooth on the ball and disciplined positionally, and his overall performance was perhaps his most complete with the first team.

Davis will be put to the test against the likes of Steven GerrardNigel de Jongand the rest of one of the league’s better midfields on Sunday if he gets the start. He is up for it, though.

“I’m training just as hard as I always have, always prepared, always ready," said Davis. "Learning from [McCarty], Felipe and Sacha the last year and a half has been really great. Now I’m ready to get a string of games, hopefully, and try my best to fit that role. Dax is an amazing player, an amazing leader. It’s a big challenge, but I’m really looking forward to it.”