NASHVILLE, TN – Dax McCarty officially said goodbye to Music City on Friday. The first club captain for Nashville SC in MLS, McCarty leaves Nashville as a free agent.
McCarty, 36, was one of the core building blocks Nashville signed ahead of their 2020 expansion season. Coming in a trade from Chicago Fire, McCarty immediately embraced the team and the city. Named club captain before Nashville ever stepped foot on the field, McCarty was one of the public faces of the team, both on the pitch and with the media.
McCarty’s leadership was crucial for an expansion team who were coming in cold to an established and competitive league. One of the most notable moments in that first year came off the field, after Nashville played their August 26 match against Orlando City while the rest of the league postponed in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting.
Instead of avoiding the media, McCarty spoke to what was likely the largest group of reporters ever assembled on a Nashville SC post-match zoom conference, taking the podium next to Jalil Anibaba to answer a bevy of hard questions.
McCarty continued that type of leadership throughout the rest of his time in Music City. In 2023, after a difficult start to the season, including an uncharacteristically ineffective performance in a loss to Cincinnati that had him considering retirement, McCarty bounced back. He was stellar in Nashville’s run to the Leagues Cup final, pulling all the strings in midfield and giving Nashville a much-needed attacking punch. His pass to set up Sam Surridge’s 99th-minute equalizer against CF Monterrey will go down as an all-time great moment in Nashville’s on-field history.
Unfortunately in sports, there are rarely perfect endings. McCarty’s final match in gold was the playoff loss to Orlando, committing an uncharacteristic turnover just outside his box to concede what would ultimately be the winning goal. It was a cruel ending to a four-year stretch that fans will remember fondly.
Whether he continues his MLS career and pushes for the league’s all-time appearances record, enters the media landscape or tries his hand at coaching, Dax McCarty leaves Music City as one of the first club legends in Nashville SC history.