Postcard from Europe: Davies' sights set on national team
AMSTERDAM – For anyone wondering what fresh Randers FC acquisition Charlie Davies was hoping to net by jumping to Denmark from Ligue 1 side Sochaux this summer, there's a very easy answer.
Sure, he'll talk of a continued desire to make returns to both a higher-level league and UEFA competition if pressed. But the 26-year-old has arrived to the Superliga with two specific aims.
"I just want to get back to scoring goals and get into contention for a national team call-up," Davies told MLSsoccer.com from his new home in the small northern town of Randers. "That's going to be my drive."
His career at Sochaux had effectively stalled when manager Mehmed Bazdarevic was fired just two months after Davies returned from a 2011 D.C. United loan stint. Having come over from Hammarby for around $2.5 million, he eventually was allowed to leave on a free transfer last month.
"Those things happen and you have to be professional," said Davies. "It happened to be the reserve coach and he wanted to go with the guys he'd coached in the academy.
"I definitely knew coming into this summer that I needed a change. I needed someplace where I could play and at a competitive level."
After weighing a few European offers, Davies decided the best combination was to be found in Denmark.
"There were options out there, but I thought Randers was the best option for me," he offered. "Coming back to Scandinavia, I know what to expect and the league is the best league in Scandinavia. The team told me they have a lot of ambition and it seems like a good place for me to get back in the swing scoring goals."
The Boston College alum also had some heady council on the decision from a pair of New England Revolution players, former Randers midfielder Lee Nguyen and Danish league veteran Benny Feilhaber.
"I've talked to Lee and Benny also played for Aarhus, which is 20 minutes away from here," he said. "I was well-informed."
Davies was also well-informed of what Randers boss Colin Todd would want from him upon signing and is slowly working his way into the rotation.
"Scoring goals and creating goals is why they brought me here," he relayed. "I know it will take a little while for me to get back in form and fitness after having a six-week break and not having played in a professional game since last February."
Davies isn't the only one trying to rise to previous heights, with newly-promoted Randers seeking their fourth trip to Europe in six years.
"[The public feeling surrounding the club] is that we just need to stay up," he said. "But from what I've seen already, I get the sense that this team can finish in the middle-to-upper half of the table. Our expectations [in the clubhouse] are probably much different than what people expect."
Concerning his own personal expectations for this season, Davies says the fire in his belly to prove himself is burning bright.
"I'd say it's as hot as it's ever been," he declared. "Of course, I don't think it can get hotter than it is when you're doing everything you can to get back for a World Cup and you're basically trying to learn to walk again."
Missing out on the 2010 World Cup was hard for Davies, but he soldiered on with intensity until a hamstring setback helped keep him off the Gold Cup squad the following spring. That disappointment proved to be somewhat of a breaking point for the notoriously hungry competitor.
"[The fire] cooled down a little for me after I failed to make the Gold Cup squad a couple months into my time at D.C. United," he shared. "Missing that squad really took a lot out of me; I guess I felt empty. It was another big blow after not making the World Cup squad. Then, at Sochaux, knowing you're not really going to get a chance is tough."
Upon moving to Randers, though, the New Hampshire native has been re-energized and is plotting his next goals. Unsurprisingly, that elusive World Cup appearance still provides a fair amount of heat to his boiler room.
"It's like, OK, 2014 Brazil is not that far away and time flies," stated Davies. "I knew I'd have to get hot again, to get that fire back.
"Now, I'm working as hard as I was back then, I feel fast and I really think that once I get into form it will show. With all the experiences I've had, I've gone through a lot. But I think it's going to help me on the field, so I can show what type of player I really am."