Chicago Fire midfielder Dax McCarty thrived in earning his first cap with the U.S. Men's National Team since 2011 Friday night, dictating play in central midfield and contributing to the game's lone goal in a 1-0 friendly win over Jamaica at Chattanooga's Finley Stadium.
Capping off a reintroduction to the USMNT setup under head coach Bruce Arena, McCarty earned a place in Arena's starting XI and was his usual assertive self on and off the ball in the early going. He also came as close as any American to opening the scoring in the first half, skying to meet a Benny Feilhaber corner kick with a firm header that went just over the crossbar.
He then helped the U.S. unlock the Jamaicans in the 59th minute, threading a pass to Feilhaber that set off a skillful sequence leading to Jordan Morris' winner:
It was the first goal of 2017 for the U.S. and the first in Bruce Arena's second stint as head coach of the USMNT. McCarty exited the contest shortly after (63rd minute), ensuring a memorable sixth career cap for the Winter Park, Fla. native:
McCarty earned near-universal praise among critics for his showing Friday night, ranking among the highest-rated U.S. performers by MLSsoccer.com's Matthew Doyle, Goal.com's Thomas Floyd and American Soccer Now's Brian Sciaretta.
After being granted permission by Arena to arrive into camp a few days late in order to say "I do" on January 14 in Orlando, it certainly appears McCarty's done all he could since to earn inclusion in the USMNT squad that will face Honduras (March 24) and Panama (March 28) in pivotal World Cup qualifying action next month. In the meantime, McCarty is now set to depart the U.S. setup and begin preparations for meeting up with his new Chicago Fire teammates in 2017 preseason camp.