McCarty, 32, has featured in 361 regular-season games across four different MLS clubs – FC Dallas, D.C. United, New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire – where he’s chipped in 20 goals and 58 assists. The two-time MLS All-Star has also been capped 13 times by the US men’s national team.
Even after all those stops, McCarty couldn't help but be impressed by the Music City at the club’s Expansion Draft party.
“The buzz is real,” McCarty said. “You can feel the excitement. Just standing here and being on stage, I kind of felt like a rookie again. I felt like I was getting drafted in the 2006 MLS Draft when my name got called and I had to make a speech in front of everyone, and I was a little bit shell-shocked. They were chanting, you hear the buzz, you see the place completely full. It’s truly incredible to be a part of it and to see it.”
McCarty, who was acquired via trade from Chicago on Nov. 11, is an immediate candidate for the captain’s armband on head coach Gary Smith’s team. That will be decided well ahead of the club’s inaugural match Feb. 29 against Atlanta United, but McCarty sees his responsibility to Nashville SC going well beyond that.
He plans to help lay the groundwork for top-flight soccer in his new city.
“Usually when you go to a team or you get traded, you’re going to a place that has a culture,” he explained. “Here in Nashville, they have a history with the USL, but they don’t have history with MLS. So to be a part of something at the ground level, to be a part of trying to build something special from the very beginning; you look at the different MLS teams that have had success as expansion teams, I think those players are going to be remembered forever.
“So that’s something that I look at and I say, ‘If I can end my career here in Nashville, and I can be remembered for building a winning culture, maybe winning some trophies here and leaving something better behind for the guys that come after me, that’s something that I can be really proud of.’”
Above all else, he plans to bring his trademark passion to the equation as they hit the ground running.
“I promise you you will see passion,” he said. “You will see a team that plays with heart, that plays with desire. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the bare minimum that is required to be a professional soccer player and to have success in MLS.”