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After enduring ups and downs, Davies thriving at perfect time for Revs

Charlie Davies New England Revolution 72

Photo by Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Joy to misery. Smiles to tears. Fit and fresh to pain and frustration.

Those have been Charlie Davies’ last five years in a nutshell. A roller coaster of emotions that has seen him show glimpses of the player he once was one minute and struggle through setbacks that hinted he could never fully recover the next.

Davies, however, is starting to look like he is finally over that hump, fully recovered from the unforgettable and life-changing car accident that nearly took his life back in 2009. It has been a long and difficult road back to this point, the point of enjoying ample success for a sustained stretch. Yet here he is now alongside the New England Revolution, who took a chance on him in 2013 and are reaping the rewards of that decision now.

Davies delivered in a big way for the Revolution on Saturday, scoring two clutch goals to help book New England’s first trip to the MLS Cup Final in seven years. The impressive performance was just the latest evidence that the 28-year-old forward is nearing a return to the level he reached as a player prior to that fateful crash. Something that, at times, appeared impossible during a tumultuous half-decade in which he was on the bench and the trainer’s table almost as much as he was on the field.

“For me personally it’s unimaginable really after these five years of really just grinding it out,” said Davies, who has four goals this postseason. “Things would go against me and there’s a lot of tears and pain and sadness, but through it all you just continue to fight and stick with it and things have turned out for the best.”

Indeed they have, and it has been an accomplishment that is nothing short of remarkable for the charismatic Davies. After finding it difficult to return to his best during stops at D.C. United and Denmark’s Randers, Davies joined the Revolution on loan last August.

He did not play much during the 2013 season and failed to find the back of the net, but New England’s coaching staff were convinced they had a piece that could help them eventually. It would take time, the coaches thought, but was an investment worth making nonetheless.

“Last year when we brought him in we knew we were going to keep him around,” said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. “I think for Charlie he just needed to get somewhere and get into the culture of a club. Charlie’s personality makes him who he is, and if he’s always constantly moving around, I don’t think he can become the player he wants to be.

“I knew we were going to keep him last year even though he wasn’t playing. I told him, ‘2013 might not be your year, but 2014 is going to be your year,’ so in the offseason we talked a lot about the way he was going to come in.”

Davies came into the preseason buzzing, so much so that he admittedly may have done himself more harm than good by overworking his muscles. He picked up niggling injuries at inopportune times, leaving him to once again frustratingly fill the role of spectator while his teammates were on the field doing what he loved.

It wasn’t until the middle of July when the Revolution were struggling through a record losing streak that Davies earned his first start of the year. He continued to get consistent looks thereafter, scoring goals and delivering assists to give New England another dangerous attacking weapon and help the club surge up the Eastern Conference standings.

In total, Davies finished the regular season with three goals and four assists in his final 15 appearances. But it was more than just his ability to get on the scoresheet that helped him carve out a permanent role, as his combination of speed, savvy, and work rate was a perfect fit for the style of play Heaps’ had implemented.

Davies’ belief in himself also continued to grow along the way, allowing him to play more free and assertively than he had in some time.

“When he first came I think he was a little low, not sure where he fit in and just trying to find his place,” said midfielder Lee Nguyen. “I think he had a chip on his shoulder and he wanted to prove himself. … I think he was just trying to get his feet wet, he just wanted games and an opportunity and ever since then he’s made the most of it.”

That confidence was apparent on Saturday, as Davies punished a stubborn Red Bulls team that refused to roll over and play dead. He was active throughout the second leg of the Eastern Conference Finals, finding the dangerous spaces in the final third and proving a nuisance to New York’s back line.

As he had plenty of times prior to his accident, Davies found himself in the right place at the right time on a pair of occasions en route to celebrating with his familiar and infectious euphoria. He netted a cross from Chris Tierney – albeit with help of his arm – right before halftime to cancel out Tim Cahill’s goal and then negated a Peguy Luyindula strike with a perfectly-placed header in the second half.

Coincidence? No. Just hard work and instincts.

“I’m going against two big centerbacks and I definitely studied the (first leg) this whole week and saw where their weaknesses were,” said Davies. “I found that most of the time (on) set pieces they left me unmarked and crosses I could find myself unmarked as well. The space in the corners, they weren’t great at tracking.

“Today, I kind of tried to exploit that and I got great balls from our midfielders and defenders. I was able to stretch the game, and really feel like I got into the game this time whereas in New York I felt like I was just running and never really got into a rhythm.”

Davies will want to deliver another clutch outing next Sunday, as he helps lead the Revolution into the MLS Cup Final against the LA Galaxy or Seattle Sounders. New England has never won the league’s biggest prize, and Davies could etch his name in the club’s history books if he helps the Revolution accomplish that in their fifth attempt to do so.

While Davies is focused on the task at hand, he is also looking forward to what happens beyond the championship game. That is a result of not only his recent run of form, but five difficult years that saw him endure a world of disappointment and hurt.

“I’m at a point right now that I feel after every game I’m not struggling to recover, I’m not in the training room getting massages until gameday,” said Davies. “I think that’s a huge point for me, is to be able to recover. Now, I feel like I’ve been able to play like the way I used to.

“Now, it’s just improving, just continuing to improve and I think I’m a smarter player now. I think it’s going to be great next season. I think next season I’ll really have my feet under me. It’s just continuing to build and continuing to improve, and hopefully I can continue to make new heights.”

The latest chapter in Davies’ comeback tale has been written. Now it is up to him to pen a fairytale ending.


  1. Damn, Red Bulls fans are a bunch of crybabies who make excuses for why their team lost. Get over it, life goes on. I actually thought New England was the better side throughout the series, and played the better soccer, stylistically.

  2. Kudos to Davies for getting the two goals, both against the run of play. You just kind of knew after RBNY was pressing and couldn’t score and then the Revs scored that it was that kind of day. Took their chances and that’s why they are moving on.

    But RBNY has a serious beef against the refs – no way Jones should have been on the field for the second half of the first or the second game, should have gotten a PK in the first game, BWP cheap call to suspend him, ball went off Davies hand, etc. keep in mind if the first game ends 1-1 it’s RBNY who is moving on. Jones smugness only serves to rub it in, he knew that he could just tomahawk on people and not get called. Would have been good to see the series get called straight up to see how it would have turned out.

    But at the end of the day, you have to take your chances, which the revs did.

    • Yeah, cause Eckersley should have been on the field, and BWP wasn’t offsides on NY’s only goal in the 1st leg, and Henry didn’t deserve a red for an elbow to someone’s head, and…… You get the point yet? Yes the refs were terrible in this series, but don’t forget that you are not objective – no FAN is. I thought last night’s game was one of the most lopsided refereeing displays I’ve ever seen – against NE. NY had multiple offsides calls allowed to go on and then the same asst. ref called the Revs back every time it was close. NY players were hauling Revs players down by their shoulders with no call, and then 3 seconds later getting a foul with incidental contact. Massively lopsided in NY’s favor. I’m a FAN, which means I tend to see things through the perspective of what would be good for my team. And I get that. You should too.

  3. You have to wonder how on Earth the NYRB coaching staff and players weren’t aware that Davies could get behind the central defenders unmarked on a set play. That was the first goal of the semi-final series against Columbus. He was so open it was criminal.

  4. Did Davies die? Cause this over-the-top praise is usually reserved for the recently deceased.
    Class act? How does one judge a persons class level just by watching them run about on the field?

  5. What a class act he’s become. He wasn’t always this mature but its always been hard to not to root for him. He’s got that infectious energy, almost like Stu holden. Before the accident he had me believing he could be our first elite forward and that he and jozy were gonna lead us on a great run in the next couple world cups. Coincidentally, jozys national team regression or stagnation, whichever you’d like to call it, seemed to really start when Davies was no longer in the team. Here’s hoping that one day he regains that fine pre-accident level on a permanent basis and that it sees him reach his full potential as a player. Gotta work on those celebrations though.

  6. And also acting like the biggest prick on earth not named Jones or Nguyen. Oh, those are his teammates? They make Landon Donovan at his prick-est look humble. I’m disgusted by their behavior on the pitch.

    It stings that it was RBNY in the playoffs but I’ve felt this way from day 1. And the ridiculousness
    that allowed Jones to play today only makes it worse. How does a guy without a full season under
    his belt just dive AND rip players down without any attempt at hitting the ball CONSTANTLY and
    never get carded? It’s fucking ridiculous. Add that to Lee “IN THAILAND I WOULD HAVE GOTTEN THAT CALL” Nguyen and it’s over the top.

    Series could have gone either way, but what if BWP was playing today and Jones had gotten his
    well-deserved red card in the first game? I can’t believe the absolute dogshit I have to read about this. It’s no wonder my non-soccer friends and most of America don’t catch on.

    “But dude that guy is faking an injury (Jones and Nguyen a million times).” I know man, but it’s like…”But dude that guy Jones just kicked the fuck out of a guy’s shin when the ball was 2 yards away and no one cared.” I know man, but…

    New MLS logo? Right here bros: …


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