Photo by Ben Keller/D.C. United
By AVI CREDITOR
WASHINGTON – After every demotion to the FC Sochaux reserves, Charlie Davies' patience was wearing thinner and thinner.
Despite regaining health in a relatively miraculous period of time considering the severity of his injuries, Davies' light at the end of Sochaux's tunnel wasn't getting any brighter.
Consider D.C. United a house-full of Christmas lights adorning the inside of that tunnel.
About 16 months removed from first-team soccer after a horrific car accident that took place just a handful of miles down the road from RFK Stadium, Davies will get the chance to regain the form that made him one of the United States' most promising strikers with a team that could certainly use a player of that caliber.
"I needed a new atmosphere and new environment, and I found it," Davies said. "I'm extremely excited and happy. I haven't felt this way in a while."
United acquired the 24-year-old forward on a 12-month loan from Sochaux with a club option to purchase his contract outright kicking in on Dec. 1. He was introduced to the local media Wednesday afternoon and was handed a No. 9 jersey with his name emblazoned on the back.
It was a moment he'd been waiting for since it became clear he wouldn't be contributing to Sochaux's first team this season. With two in-form strikers ahead of him on the team's depth chart, Davies, who is still working his own way back into form, was relegated to the club's reserve team with regularity.
That's not an easy fate to swallow for a player who prides himself on trying to succeed at the highest possible level.
"Those (reserve) games were very, very difficult for me," Davies said. "Not just to play with that group, but mentally it was very difficult going into each one of those games. A lot of it was just like, 'All right Charlie, let's just get through this game. You know you don't want to be playing here. You don't want to be playing with the reserves. You want to be playing with the first team. You want to get your chance.'
"I performed during the week in training, and I've scored goals, and you expect to get that first-team chance, and then you have to go to the reserves. It's like another blow to the chest, and another one and it kept piling on. I'm extremely happy and thankful that I got this chance."
It's a chance that D.C. United seems just as happy to take.
With the club having completed its week-long evaluation of Davies, the front office and technical staff believes it's getting a player that will help turn around what was one of the league's most anemic attacks in 2010.
"It's very clear that he's worked very hard to get back to a top level," D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper said. "Is he physically ready to start 30 games? In a month's time, the answer will probably be yes."
Instead of trying to work his way back outside of the spotlight of the American public and media, Davies said that he spurned chances to be loaned elsewhere overseas for the chance to play for D.C. It's a risky proposition considering the impending scrutiny of every one of his touches, but the ever-confident striker doesn't see it that way.
"I'm definitely ready for games to be closely watched, and my performance especially under a microscope," Davies said. "The were other opportunities in Europe, but I need to be in the best situation and the best environment for me, and I think that's here with D.C. United."
As a trialist last week, Davies got off to a strong start with his new club.
He scored three goals and assisted on two others in friendlies against the Canada and Trinidad & Tobago Under-20 teams last week while D.C. trained in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. While the competition wasn't necessarily the toughest, Davies showed enough in training and scrimmages for the United braintrust to sign off on the loan.
"He proved to us that he's on the way back to being the Charlie of old," head coach Ben Olsen said. "Is he there yet? There's still some rust of being off that long and going through some of the things he went through. Our job — a job we're looking forward to — is dusting that rust off and getting him back to that form that we saw."
That certainly fits into Davies' plan as well.
"The goal is to be better than I was before and achieve all the goals I had before as a player," Davies said.
One of those goals was starring for the United States. With the Gold Cup approaching, the questions regarding Davies' pending place on Bob Bradley's roster will undoubtedly resurface, a la World Cup 2010, especially if Davies gets off to a hot start this season.
"Of course you always want to play for the national team," Davies said. "I definitely would love for that to happen. For the moment it's not on my mind. Just getting back to being an in-form striker and playing well every game, and playing well for D.C. and scoring goals. That's the most important thing.
"I'm looking at the short term. I'm taking it day-by-day. I'm very thankful for this organization to give me the chance to prove myself. I want to help this team win and do everything I can to not only get back to my previous form but help this team reach their objectives."
The red jersey looks nice. Placed my order last night. Can’t wait for it to come in.
I am so proud of how hard you have worked to get back in shape and over come such adversity. I am absolutely thrilled for you that you now have a chance to get major playing time in front of all the US fans who love you. You go man go!
Just one thing miracle man – Praise the good, ignore the bad, do the right thing, and don’t blame anyone but yourself for landing in the hole you just climbed out of. For a model of assiduous application to learning the finer skills of the game, putting up with countless dirty sh*t from opposing players at the club and national team level, and never complaining – look to Clint Dempsey. Go higher.
Just stop complaining, stop blaming anyone, or any body or anything for your life condition – be the master of your own ship.
Shine on, shine on, shine on. You are infinite in time and space, and there are no limits to what you can accomplish, only those that your own mind creates.
Best wishes to you,
From: Born a Wolverine and raised in that Tiger’s lair.
excited for this MLS season… scared for the Fire…
Love ya Charlie, but I’m not gonna love you leaving Danny Califf’s chunky butt in the dust…
Somebody already said it, but this is shaping up to be a good MLS season. I think it’s catching some wind. Charlie could really help add something special.
Bring it to the March 19 home openner. It would be cool if the fans welcomed Charlie to DCU in a special way.
really looking forward to seeing him play down in lovely Charleston, SC in about 2 weeks time for the Carolina Challenge Cup. For those who have not yet made it to Blackbaud Stadium, this is the time. Who’s making the trip?
Najar, McCarty, Boskovic, whoever the other forward ends up being, take your pick.
do i feel dumb, i could have deduced that from the photo…
It’ll be great to see him play so we can make a judgement for ourselves just how far he has come from his accident and how far he has to go to get back on the USMNT.
GO Charlie!…’cept when you play Seattle 🙂
I’m betting that Hamid,Kitchen and Dax, if they play well, will turn out to be the most important new acquisitions. Got to have that strength down the middle.
I’m just glad it will be here where we can all see for ourselves and not rely on Tweets.
The current young guns who seem to be coming up (Juan and Teal, etc.) have a long way to go so it will be good to at least have the ghost of the old CD pushing them.
Waht I believe Mr or Ms fischy is saying is Adu is on Benfica’s books until 2012 at about a million per.
If MLS wants to pick up their share of that on a loan I’m sure something can be worked out but perhaps MLS isn’t interested.
Until then Freddy would be crazy to walk out on that until 2012 when he can then come back to MLS at the age of something like 22 and still have time to mount a comeback.
Never leave money on the table, especially in Adu’s circumstances.
I’m not trying to be a jacka$$, but will his face always be that swollen looking? I know he pretty much had his face peeled off and re-attached in surgery, but he looks so much different. Pre-crash Charlie looks like an almost completely different person than post-crash Charlie.
I think it’s his cheeks?