Yesterday, Franco Panizo at MLSsoccer.com broke the news that midfielder Dax McCarty has been battling on-and-off back pain for some years now and it was that pain that kept McCarty out of the starting XI last weekend against the Montreal Impact.
The story, which doesn't get into specifics on exactly how much or how long, certainly makes it seem like McCarty's been battling the chronic pain for most of his time in New York. Which makes it all the more surprising, seeing how well he's played in a Red Bulls jersey.
Since joining the team in the 2011 Dwayne DeRosario trade, McCarty's made 84 appearances, the majority of them starts. In his first full year with the team, the staff at MLSsoccer.com named him the league's most underrated player.
Last season, he was one of the league's better passers, according to numbers crunched by the league's site. And while passing statistics can be misleading -- few players will screw up a back pass -- he made more passes in the Red Bulls' attacking half than all but four other players ahead of him. WhoScored.com gave McCarty a 7.1 rating on aggregate in 2013, good for fifth on the team. This season, he's earned a 6.9, good for sixth on the team.
The injury, according to Panzio's story, is being treated with new medication, which McCarty believes will put the pain behind him.
Which seems a good thing for the Red Bulls. And a really bad thing for the rest of the league.