The Mutiny defender, back from a broken left ankle, returns against New England.
By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 26, 2001
TAMPA -- This is the day Chad McCarty has anticipated for four months. Since breaking his left ankle April 7 at Dallas, McCarty has endured surgery, rehabilitation and a few setbacks.
Now McCarty is ready to take the field again. He hopes to play at least 45 minutes in the Mutiny's game against New England.
"It's been tough not being able to be out there," McCarty said. "I've taken something from being injured. First, you realize how much you love it. Then you get a chance to work with the younger guys who don't play every day. Then watching video, and I've seen so much video, you see what you would do differently and it makes you a better player."
McCarty, 23, has been a promising and aggressive defender since joining the Mutiny in 1998. He missed all but five games his rookie season with a broken right ankle. He became a fixture in 1999 and had a breakthrough season in 2000.
McCarty played 22 games and earned a reputation as the team's most physical defender. He missed five games while playing for the under-23 national team in the Olympics.
This was supposed to be the year McCarty and the Mutiny defense gained recognition in Major League Soccer. But Steve Trittschuh went down before the season with a broken right leg, then McCarty was lost.
Trittschuh returned last month. McCarty was supposed to return in three months, but pain forced him to cut his training short.
With McCarty back and with newly acquired Diego Sonora expected to start, the defense finally appears to be a strength again. For the 4-18-1 Mutiny, however, it's too little too late.
"It's not the best timing but you have to take it when you can," coach Perry Van Der Beck said. "Chad gave me the green light that he can play so we're going to try to get him 20 minutes or 45 minutes. We'll have to wait and see."
McCarty said no matter what, he expects to play full speed while on the field.
"I expect to be 100 percent aggressive," McCarty said. "I'm going to try to win 50-50 balls and headers. I'm going to mark my guy tightly. If I didn't think I could do that I wouldn't put on the uniform.
"But I haven't played a game in four months. I'm sure it's going to enter my head some time. The trouble with getting through injuries is blocking everything out. It's not fair to my teammates to jog around and wimp out of tackles. I've got to be the player that got me to where I am today."
McCarty will play at center back. He should be flanked by Sonora on the right and Trittschuh on the left. Van Der Beck also has the option of using Joe Addo, Eric Denton, Scott Cannon or Craig Demmin.
"Defenders need time to work together, but hopefully we show some of the continuity we've been missing this year," McCarty said. "New England's making a playoff run and they're sharp. There might be breakdowns. But my mind-set is to play as long as I can and make as few mistakes as I can.
"Unfortunately this season we've given teams too much time on the ball. It's more my personality to push on the ball and take risks. I'd rather try to win tackles at midfield than sit back on the 18(-yard box) and have (goalkeeper) Adin (Brown) make 15 saves."
With only five games remaining in the regular season, it's unlikely McCarty will round into top shape.
One thing's guaranteed. McCarty will not sit around during the offseason.
"I've got to play," said McCarty, who might try to train with a European club. "I didn't really play this season. I will play somewhere, that's for sure."
WHEN/WHERE: 6; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa.
RADIO: WWBA-AM 1040, WAMA AM 1550 (Spanish). COACHES: Revolution -- Fernando Clavijo. Mutiny -- Perry Van Der Beck.
RECORDS: Revolution 7-12-5, Mutiny 4-18-1.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Revolution -- D Mauricio Wright, M/D Jay Heaps, M Cate, M Andy Williams, D Ted Chronopoulos. Mutiny -- F Mamadou Diallo, G Adin Brown, M Danny Pena, M Steve Ralston, D Chad McCarty.
NOTES: Mutiny F Eric Quill (strained right hamstring), F Ali Curtis (strained left hamstring) and D Joe Addo (bruised ribs) are probable. Mutiny defender Diego Sonora, signed as a discovery player 10 days ago, arrived from Argentina on Saturday and is scheduled to play today. New England advanced to the final of the U.S. Open Cup with a 2-0 win over D.C. United Wednesday. The final against Los Angeles is Oct. 27. The Revolution has a 10-9 edge in the overall series and has won the past two meetings. The game was scheduled for Saturday but was moved to accommodate a Bucs preseason game. The first 5,000 fans 14 and under receive a replica Mutiny jersey. -- Compiled by Rodney Page.