SAN JOSE, Calif. - With San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Brad Davis, there has never been a question about his ability to join the attack and utilize his deadly accurate left foot. That's why he points to his improved defensive ability as the main reason he has been called into his first U.S. national team camp.
"I'm fine going forward and creating, but I've needed work on the defensive part," said Davis. "I've come a long way from where I started this season, and I still need work on it. Growing up I never really had to play that role. Coming into this league was definitely a shock as to how much you have to play on both sides of the ball."
Acquired in the offseason from FC Dallas in a trade for fan favorite Richard Mulrooney, Davis has enjoyed a breakout season with the Quakes. Always a dangerous offensive player, San Jose has been able to harness some of his defensive skills, helping to round him into a better all-around player.
"We pride ourselves on team defense - all 11 guys get behind the ball. If they don't do it, they're going to get a shout from the sideline," said San Jose head coach Dominic Kinnear. "With Brad, it's been about correcting his starting position defensively. Just by being in the right place defensively, you can win more balls. Starting position is huge and I think he's been good at that."
Davis will join the 23-man squad of the U.S. national team this week in Portland for a week of training in preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which runs from July 6-24 in various locations across the United States.
"It really was a shock to me because I hadn't heard anything about it," said Davis. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to show what I can do. It's a great honor."
Although Davis has achieved a modicum of success over the course of his four-year MLS career, it was not until this season, his first with the Earthquakes, that he has been able to take his game to lofty heights. Davis leads the league in assists with eight and has been San Jose's most consistent offensive performer all season.
"It's been great coming to San Jose. We've got such a great core group of guys and a great staff," said Davis. "Everything's been positive. Our team's on a roll, we're fighting hard and we're putting points on the board. It's been great from day one so hopefully it continues."
Davis learned of his national team callup from Kinnear while he was "sitting on my couch just after practice." He immediately called his parents, who were forced to re-arrange their scheduled visit to the West Coast this week in order to see their son play in the Gold Cup.
"I always try to encourage the creative players - he's got a great touch, he's very dangerous on set pieces and he's good running at players," said Kinnear. "When he takes a confident approach and he's positive, he's a fun player to watch."
Davis has had some experience with the U.S. national team program, having been a member of the U-20 and U-23 squads earlier in his career, but this is his first opportunity with the senior national team.
"Those are all big moments, but those are all moments that you want to lead up to this point, getting to the senior team," said Davis. "Everybody's goal is to get to the senior team and play in a World Cup and represent your country. I don't even know how to explain it."
Danny Kadah is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.