Like much of the rest of the soccer world, New York Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty was blindsided by news this week that former FC Dallas midfielder Bobby Rhine had passed away at just 35 years old.
Shortly after finishing training on Tuesday, McCarty received a text message from an Dallas employee asking him to give her a call. It was then that McCarty learned that Rhine had died of an apparent heart attack on Monday evening.
McCarty played the first three years of his MLS career with Rhine and remembers him fondly.
“I don’t know one person that has one negative thing to say about him,” McCarty told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “It’s truly tragic. Definitely someone who was taken away from us too soon.”
McCarty remembers Rhine being one of the first to welcome him to the team in 2006, his rookie season. By that time, Rhine had seven seasons under his belt and was well-respected in the FC Dallas locker room, but McCarty saw a player who worked hard and cared for his teammates.
“He was just everything that you expect from a leader,” McCarty said. “The one thing I always took away from Bobby was no matter how good or bad he was playing, he always brought the right attitude to every training session, every game. He was always a positive guy. He never knew the word ‘quit.’”
Added McCarty: “Whenever I needed help, whenever I needed advice, he was always the first guy I went to. He’s the type of guy that, even if it’s a non-soccer issue, you could go to him and he would be right there for you.”
McCarty will speak to the Red Bulls coaching staff on Thursday to see if he can attend services for Rhine on Friday ahead of Saturday's matchup with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite the short turnaround, he is hopeful he’ll be able to make the trip to Texas to say goodbye to his friend and mentor.
The occasion may be somber, but it’s also a chance to cherish happy memories. McCarty said that deep down Rhine was a jokester, and more often than not it was McCarty who was serving as the butt of Rhine's good humor.
“I guess the one specific thing I’ll always remember most about him is whenever I got a haircut, no matter how good or bad it was, he was always there to make fun of me, and tell me how bad it looked,” McCarty said. “But I took it exactly the way that he was intending it, which was cracking a joke and bringing a smile to everyone’s face in the locker room. There was never a day I entered the locker room and didn’t see a smile on his face.”