Davies steps up as DC's hopes hang in the balance

Charlie Davies

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WASHINGTON – When D.C. United made the decision to bring in Charlie Davies on loan last offseason, they were well aware of the risk involved of acquiring a player who had barely played in 18 months.

Now, with DC delicately poised for a playoff spot, Davies is hoping to repay the faith by producing big things over the final eight games of the regular season. And that starts at home against Chivas USA on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

“[I want to be] the guy that finishes teams off,” Davies said this week. “Where the team can depend on me to create chances and score. That’s the plan right now: Just be that guy that leads the team emotionally as well as finishes off teams with goals.”

It hasn’t been easy going for Davies in his recovery from the horrific injuries sustained in an October 2009 car crash. After starting out strong this year, including a brace in his return to the field in the first game of the season, Davies struggled with nagging injuries and played sporadically through the summer months.

But he burst back on the scene 11 days ago, scoring all three goals of DC's 3-0 romp over Chivas USA. It was the Davies of old at least for one night, and the kind of player United will need over this closing month of the season.

“He has a great knack for the goal right now, makes great runs,” midfielder Dwayne De Rosario said. “He’s a defender’s nightmare. So if he can continue to be that guy, that he’s been all year, it’ll create more space for our other players to get opportunities as well as him getting us to win a game – he has that ability.”

Despite his summer struggles, Davies has still scored 11 goals, tied for second in the race for the Golden Boot. Feeling healthy after a length stretch of time off, and making time to see a sports psychologist, he’s ready to lead the line and is eager to play a role in DC’s playoff push.

“I think no matter who we play at this point for the rest of the season we’ve got to attack, we’ve got to press,” he said.

Head coach Ben Olsen has been impressed with the way Davies has handled his comeback. And while the goals are nice, it’s the little things that Olsen wants to see from his to help make the team successful.

“If he’s doing the other stuff, that’s the sign whether or not Charlie’s helping our group right now," Olsen said, "whether he’s committed to the running and his reactions are good and he’s alert, all those things that you saw at Chivas."

The pressure is on now, and Davies isn't about to shy away from his opportunity to step up.

“I think the team definitely needs me at this point especially with Chris [Pontius] being out,” he said. “I’m ready for the challenge and looking forward to [Wednesday].”

Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com.