WASHINGTON — Much was made of the risk involved in D.C. United's signing of forward Charlie Davies, who had not played extensive minutes since recovering from a near-fatal car accident in October 2009.
But after the 24-year-old played every minute during the busiest stretch of the season thus far — with DC playing three games in eight days — the move to land the US international striker in the offseason increasingly seems like less of a gamble.
“We knew when we were signing him that there was some chance involved,” assistant coach Chad Ashton said. “To this point, we feel like it’s been a great pickup for us, a great addition. He’s leading in a lot of different ways. It’s helping our team tremendously.”
Davies is also leading the league in goals with six goals in eight appearances, which has already surpassed the mark set by United’s top scorer last season, Andy Najar. Last Wednesday’s performance against Seattle may have been Davies at his best this year. Toeing the Sounders’ back line all night, he set up Josh Wolff for the game’s first goal before finishing another himself.
His teammates are taking notice of his progress since joining the club during preseason.
“This last week for me was the best strides he made all year,” Wolff said. “It’s the things that I stress to him, and I’m sure the other coaches have stressed to him: When you’re a forward, there are more responsibilities to being a forward, it’s not just scoring goals.”
Said Davies after last week's win over Seattle: “I’m pushing myself every game and trying to take the next step, and tonight was a big step for me as far as being more physical and using my body. Coach [Ben] Olsen has really been harping on me to be more physical and hold the ball up, and today I took a big step towards being that force up top where I can not only make runs, but hold the ball up for the team.”
With the Gold Cup roster announcement expected next week, speculation lingers that Davies could make his long awaited return to the US national team.
Whether or not he forms part of the USMNT this summer, the massive strides he has made since February are evident.
“From what we saw from preseason to where he is now, he’s made up a lot of ground,” Wolff said. “For us, for US Soccer, it’s an exciting thing. Hopefully he’ll keep notching some goals and we’ll keep moving up the table.”