By CARL SETTERLUND
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — There hasn’t been much good news around Gillette Stadium lately. In case you missed it, the New England Revolution followed an early season surge to the top of the Eastern Conference table with a frustrating stretch of nine losses in 10 games through this summer.
One reason to smile, however, has been the return to health of former U.S. national team star Charlie Davies, who broke out of a nearly three-year scoring slump last weekend in the Revs’ 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls.
“Man it felt good. It felt so good,” said Davies, who celebrated the breakthrough with an inspired rendition of the stanky leg dance. “I’m looking forward to hopefully now opening the flood gates and helping the team win games,” he added at Revs training Wednesday morning.
Davies hadn’t scored since Sept. 10, 2011, when he recorded a hat trick for D.C. United. Davies pedaled the success of his 2011 season into another chance in Europe with Danish club Randers F.C., but after going goalless there, he returned to MLS with the Revolution in 2013.
“It’s been so up and down having to deal with injuries for basically this whole season,” Davies said. “Finally, it’s starting to come together for me. I’ve been able to stay healthy, stay fit and work hard, and I’ve been training well and it’s kind of translated into my games.”
It’s been a good stretch for Davies, who received his first start with the Revolution on July 19 and has started two of the three games since. He assisted on Lee Nguyen’s winner against Colorado on July 30, showing that his passing form is starting to come back as well.
JOSEPH NEARING RETURN
Another positive development has been the return to training of club legend Shalrie Joseph, who has been hampered by injuries since rejoining the Revs in April.
With holding midfielder Andy Dorman out with a long-term knee injury, there may be space for Joseph in coach Jay Heaps’ lineup when the Revs return from a bye week on Aug. 16.
“I think Shalrie is at the furthest point along that he’s been at,” Heaps said. “He’s had just a couple setbacks that were pretty significant. We’re still day-by-day with Shalrie and we’re still assessing after training, but this is the most days in a row he’s been able to put together.”
With New England reeling, Heaps said he’s hoping the 36-year-old can add leadership and “a little bit of grit.”
While Heaps characterized Joseph as day-to-day, he said Dorman and left back Chris Tierney, also out with a knee injury, will be evaluated week-to-week.
Joseph was seen stretching Wednesday morning alongside Revs academy star Zachary Herivaux, who was training with the team. The 18-year-old from Brookline, Mass., was a member of the Shalrie Joseph Soccer Club before joining New England’s academy system.
TEAMMATES SAY NGUYEN IS AN ALL-STAR SNUB
New England’s poor form lately surely didn’t help his cause, but one Revs player that had a case to make the MLS All-Star team was Lee Nguyen. The central midfielder leads the team with eight goals, tying him for eighth-most in the league.
While the scoring is impressive, it’s not necessarily what Nguyen is known for, as he’s also been the heartbeat of the Revs’ possession game.
Working against Nguyen is that central midfielder is always a competitive position on the all-star team. Nonetheless, teammates Kelyn Rowe and Teal Bunbury were surprised at his omission.
“Lee’s strong mentally, he knows that he’s a good player and we’re behind him,” Rowe said. “For him, he just needs to go forward and prove people wrong.”
Heaps, who has not had an all-star during his three-season tenure as coach, said that he hopes the team takes motivation from it.
Rowe also had another suggestion for the All-Star week festivities, saying he and former UCLA teammate Amobi Okugo would like to see the inaugural Homegrown players game turn into a matchup between U-23 Homegrown players and U-23 Generation Adidas players.
What do you think? Happy for Davies that he’s finding his form? Can Joseph provide any difference in the Revs midfield? Should Nguyen have gotten an MLS All-Star nod?
Share your thoughts below.