Dax McCarty: Exclusive interview with MLS Multiplex – Schweinsteiger’s ‘soccer brain’


MLS Multiplex spoke to Dax McCarty during EA Play in Los Angeles. Here is what he had to say about USMNT, Bastian Schweinsteiger and the Chicago Fire.

MLS Multiplex had the pleasure of speaking to Chicago Fire midfielder Dax McCarty at EA Play, where the experienced U.S. international was celebrating the free 2018 World Cup FIFA 18 upgrade.

Dax McCarty and I got to chat about his day in Los Angeles, the work that EA were doing there, what he thought about the upcoming World Cup before delving deep into what makes Bastian Schweinsteiger such a good player to play with and forecasting the remainder of the season for the Chicago Fire.

Related Story: World Cup: Top MLS player from each country

Here’s the interview with Dax McCarty.

Q: What have you been doing at EA Play in Los Angeles?

A: I’ve really enjoyed it here, at the LA Palladium. They have an unbelievable set-up here. You walk out to the main floor and it’s like a gamer’s heaven. Computer screens everywhere, all kinds of games going on, three massive, movie-theatre-sized big screens with FIFA going on. This is a gamer’s heaven. I’ve been playing FIFA, talking to the fans here and enjoying the 2018 World Cup update.

Q: Have you won any FIFA games or not?

A: I did. I did win the first FIFA game I played, but it was against the computer, so I don’t know if that counts. I feel like it was on easy mode which was really helpful for me as I’m not the best FIFA player.

Q: And what is your favourite element of the game?

A: I’d say my favourite element of the game, other than how realistic it is, is, when you score a goal, the celebrations. It’s insane. I always laugh whenever I score a goal with a certain player that has a trademark celebration and he does it in the game. The attention to detail that the creators of FIFA at EA Sports have accomplished is truly unbelievable. So, I would say seeing the celebrations after scoring a goal because I don’t score many goals on FIFA. I don’t score many goals in real life. So, when I do score a goal on FIFA, it’s always fun seeing the celebrations.

Dax McCarty and Lee Nguyen at EA Play
Dax McCarty and Lee Nguyen at EA Play /

Q: The EA Prediction for the World Cup had France as World Cup winners. Do you agree with that prediction or have you got another team in mind?

A: You know, I don’t agree with that prediction. My opinion of France, when taken individually, they probably have the most talent in the world. But the way that they played against the U.S. team the other day, I wanna give credit to the young U.S. kids, they had a great game, but France just didn’t look very sharp. They looked a little bit out of sorts to me, tactically. I think they’ll advance out of the group no problem, but I think when they play the better teams in the later rounds, I think they’re gonna struggle, they gonna have a little bit of a problem, so I don’t agree with the EA Sports simulation. I know that blasphemous to say at an EA Sports event, but I’m going with gut here. I don’t think France wins it.

Q: If I was to put a bet on a team to win the World Cup, who would you be advising to win the World Cup?

A: If I was telling you to put money on a team to win the World Cup, I would tell you to put your money on Germany. Because, even though in the lead up to the World Cup, they haven’t actually been great, they’ve squeaked out a couple of results here and there, Germans, in big tournaments, on European soil, always have the performances. Always. And I’m teammates with a German who has accomplished a couple of things in his career, and he tells me that Germany is locked and loaded and ready to roll, so I think Germany is going to be a force to be reckoned with, and if you were putting money on a team, put it on Germany.

Q: Who do you personally think will win the World Cup?

A: But who I think is going to win the World Cup and who I want to win the World Cup, for selfish reasons, is Argentina. I am a huge Lionel Messi fan. I think he is the greatest player of all time. I hate the argument against him that he’s never won a World Cup. I think it’s ridiculous. But if he does win a World Cup, then that argument will be put to bed and he will be the consensus greatest player of all time because no one will have that argument anymore. So I want Argentina to win it.

Q: You talked about Bastian Schweinsteiger there. What makes him so good, why is he so intelligent and what’s he like to play with at Chicago?

A: Well, it’s amazing to play with a guy like that, first of all. I would say that his career speaks for itself. The things that he’s been able to accomplish and the things that he’s been able to do. Any player would dream to have the resume that he has. And I think the thing that separates him from other players that I’ve played with is his soccer brain. That seems like a broad term, but it’s so difficult to put into words the ability that he has on the field to adapt to certain situations.

His soccer brain makes everybody else around him better. His ability to make other players around him better players is uncanny, and it’s something that you rarely see in big superstars. Usually, you know, big superstars, either they’re goalscorers or they’re creative numbers 10s. Bastian, he’s really none of those things. He encompasses, I think, what it means to be a total footballer. He can do anything. You can play him in any position on the field and he’s gonna be successful, he’s gonna be good at it.

He’s played centre-back for us, he’s played central defensive-mid for us, he’s played attacking-mid for us. Earlier in his career, he was a winger. He’s a guy that just has so much natural ability that you can put him anywhere on the field and not only is he going to do a great job, but he’s going to make everyone else better. The way that he’s rubbed off on me and helped me improve my game is amazing, and I’m very grateful to him.

Lee Nguyen and Dax McCarty at EA Play
Lee Nguyen and Dax McCarty at EA Play /

Q: It must be brilliant to play with a player like that. How do you think the season has gone for the Fire and what are your aspirations moving forward?

A: For the Fire, we haven’t had the greatest start to the season. We’ve acknowledged that, as a team. We’ve talked about it. And the great thing is is that we’ve been very inconsistent, we’ve had a lot of injuries, had a lot of tough results go against us, but we’re right in the thick of the playoff race. We’re a couple of points out of sixth place, and I said this before, we might not be fighting for the Supporters’ Shield this year, but we are still in the U.S. Open Cup, which is a big trophy that we want to win and is very important for the club, and we’re still in the fight for the playoffs.

Our season is by no means over. We still have a lot to play for. So, once we get healthy, once we start playing up to the capabilities that we have as a team, I think we are going to be challenging for trophies this year. And I hope that we are because I’m not a guy who likes to lose. I a very bad loser. You can ask my friends and my wife about that. I don’t take losing well. I’m miserable to be around. If we lose many more games this year, I’m bound to explode, so I’m hoping that not’s going to happen.

Q: You talked about how you as a squad have discussed your inconsistent form this year. What have those discussions been like, have you talked about what needs to improve, and how do you think you can move forward for the remainder of the year?

A: We’ve talked a lot about what needs to improve. The first thing is, we don’t start games well. I think every game that we’ve conceded the first goal in, we’ve either lost or managed to draw. But I don’t think that we’ve come back to win a game when we conceded the first goal. So that’s been a big problem for us. When we start games well and when we score the first goal, we go on to win the game. That’s kind of been our Achilles heel. So, that’s a big problem that we’ve talked about. We need to start games better.

I think that we need to be better defensively. We concede way too many easy goals and that’s something that we’ve acknowledged as a team. We watch the video and a big problem for us, this year, has been that we’ve conceded goals the same way, and that means we’re not learning from our mistakes. So when we watch video, we need to make sure that, whether it’s as a team or individually, we’re not making the same errors that we make in previous games.

So those are big things that we’ve talked about and harped on as a team. I think that we have talent. We have plenty of attacking ability, so our ability to score goals is always going to be there, but it’s just kind of on the defensive end where we have to make sure that we are staying sharp as a team. If we can keep shutouts, then we’re going to do ourselves a lot of favours. And that’s what we’ve talked about moving forward. Our ability to keep shutouts and our ability to dictate the game through our possession is something that we’re going to have to do to be successful.

Next: Chicago Fire Vs New England Revolution: 5 things we learned - Dax McCarty returns

Our thanks to EA Sports and Dax McCarty for the time to speak.