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ProSoccerTalk Player of the Week: Dax McCarty

New England Revolution v New York Red Bulls

HARRISON, NJ - APRIL 28: Benny Feilhaber #22 of the New England Revolution and Dax McCarty #11 of the New York Red Bulls battle for a loose ball during the game at Red Bull Arena on April 28, 2012 in Harrison, New Jersey. The Red Bulls defeated the Revolution 1-0. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

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So much of this game is about “want-to.” At the pro level, it’s about “want-to” and about rising to the moment.

The Red Bulls were in dire straits last week, missing 6-7 starters, depending on how you looked at things. Then star-of-the-show Thierry Henry fell to injury. That is the very definition of “hard times.”

But a few men rose to the challenge. None more than Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty, whose smart and skillful hustle helped carry the day in a 1-0 victory over New England.

McCarty is the consummate box-to-box midfielder; not particularly well equipped for a role neither as playmaker nor as a defensive midfield specialist, but adequate as both and suited perfectly for a linking role. His red-zone energy level assists the cause, too.

Asked to function Saturday as a defensive screener (for injured first-choice Teemu Tainio and the suspended second-choice Rafa Marquez) was a tough assignment, but one well taken. McCarty may not be an enforcer, per se, but he demonstrated how tackling through focus and technique can be as effective as Nigel de Jong-type tackling through collisions and contusions.

McCarty’s work in interrupting passing lanes and in distributing balls out of the back with accuracy was also outstanding.

Past ProSoccerTalk Players of the Week

Round 1: Kalif Alhassan, Portland

Round 2: David Estrada, Seattle

Round 3: Thierry Henry, New York

Round 4: Thierry Henry, New York

Round 5: Kenny Cooper, New York

Round 6: Aurelien Collin, Sporting Kansas City

Round 7: D.C. United’s Chris Pontius

Round 8: New York’s Dax McCarty