John recently finished his senior year at La Salle University. He has played for PDL squads Reading United and Ocean City FC, even earning a glowing review for his performance against New York Red Bulls in this last year's Open Cup start. McCarthy is a well experienced goalkeeper who set records at La Salle in saves (468), shutouts (28), and games played (75) and is looking to make the next step. Below are highlights of McCarthy and an interview with him about his career so far.
When did you start playing goalkeeper and why?
When I was 8 or 9, we were at that age where we had a goalie but we still rotated a bit. I gave it a shot one day and I kind of liked it. I guess I was okay at it. The coach kept asking me to play and I just stuck with it.
How did you end up at La Salle?
My dad went to La Salle. He was a big reason why I went there. I didn't get too many other looks from other schools. There was La Salle, Seton Hall and Rutgers. I really liked the coaching staff at La Salle and I felt like I had the best opportunity to play there. And I felt a little more comfortable going into a problem I knew something about as opposed to Seton Hall and Rutgers.
[John's father was twice named all-conference in 1978, 1979.]
You've trained with PDL teams Reading United and Ocean City Nor'easters. What was that experience like?
Playing with Reading and Ocean City, it was another level because it was all the best college guys getting recruited to play for a PDL team. So I got to play with some of the top guys in the country both at Reading and Ocean City. The environment was great. You train almost every day, maybe one or two days off a week depending on how many games you had. Everyone at that level wants to play professional so you're stepping into an environment where nothing is a given to every day. You might have a better chance at playing in college because you're older than some guys but no matter the age was at PDL the best players played. And that's what made everyone better because they wanted to get to the next level.
(Skip ahead to 1:09:00 to see the myriad of saves in the first half against New York Red Bulls.)
What are your thoughts on college soccer as a development for players?
It's an experience. It's taking a jump from high school so it's another push to play at the next level. Division one is where I've always wanted to play and it really helped. You train six out of the seven days of the week and you only have off because, I think, it's an NCAA rule that you have to have off. But it was awesome. The training was great for me, to play every day. To get out from the effort we put into it, from the players and coaches, it was good.
I noticed you started wearing headgear. Can you talk about that?
I got a concussion my senior year so I thought that I might as well wear it to prevent any type of injuries with the head. It was uncomfortable at first but if they make gear to protect head injuries from happening why not wear it? Although it was kind of funny wearing it the first time around.
How did you get the concussion?
It was against Lafayette, first game of the season. I went out and caught it, an easy catch. A center back from Lafayette, a big guy, maybe 6'2', just ran through me in the air and didn't get any of the ball. I came down and landed on my head. I stayed in for another ten minutes but we went into overtime because we were tied so I put myself out from playing overtime. It wasn't worth the risk to keep playing with the injury. It's a long season so I tried to make the best decision for me personally and the team.
Are you back to 100% now?
Yeah, yeah, I've been back to 100%. That was in late August. I only missed one game and played the rest of them.
There was hardly any press on the Seattle Combine you attended. What can you tell us about that?
It was really cool. It was the best players, mostly from the country although I know some where from out of the country. A lot of players go to the MLS combine that were there at the Seattle combine and I took a lot out of it. If I couldn't hang with the players at that combine then there's no chance that I'd be able to hang with the players at the next level. It was a learning experience for me, definitely, but I felt like I played to the best of my abilities. I got some good feedback and met some great guys that hopefully things work out for them down the line.
I've been in talks with coaches since the combine and I've talked to a bunch of USL Pro teams. I went to Rochester's tryout. Any tryout I could go to I went to to get my name out there so that if any chance comes my way I can really take advantage of it. I was shooting teams emails as soon as I got done with my college season. At one point I was just guessing emails, as funny as that sounds. I would look at, say, Seattle, and I would put a name and try to guess the ending of the email and I got a decent amount of responses. *laughs* I sent out a resume and a highlight tape. So yeah, I've been training and hoping. My agent is doing a good job for me, Dave Williamson, he's been putting out a good word and guiding me in the right direction.