HOUSTON – MLS scoring leader Chris Wondolowski has used his club performances to break into US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans. And if that is a criteria for national team selection, Houston Dynamo talisman Brad Davis is hoping to take advantage.
Davis has been a top performer in MLS since the Dynamo relocated to Houston in 2006. The left-footed marksman has 72 assists since 2006 while adding 27 goals, yet that production has translated into just five international appearances.
But if the current US boss plans to reward league excellence, Davis, who has 26 assists and 10 goals in the last season-and-a-half, thinks his chances could be looking up.
“Yeah, that’s encouraging,” Davis told MLSsoccer.com when asked about seeing MLSers given chances with the USMNT. “Different guys are getting opportunities and you like to see coaches do that for sure. For [Klinsmann] to give some new guys some opportunities is encouraging for all the guys around the league, and it opens your eyes and makes you want to keep pushing forward.”
The fact that he has such a good track record makes his absence perplexing.
“I wish I had an answer because I think he deserves to be there,” Dynamo assistant coach Steve Ralston said.
Ralston, the all-time MLS assist leader with 135, knows what Davis is going through. It took him seven years of quality MLS play before becoming a US regular in 2003.
“You hope with the guys performing well in MLS that would translate to opportunities,” added Ralston, who earned 36 national team caps. “That’s been the case in the past and hopefully it’s the same here, that Jurgen is watching the players in this league and seeing they’re doing a good job, and saying, ‘I need to be bring them in.’
“I’m sure it’s frustrating for [Davis] because he’s done a great job and I think he deserves the opportunity to go to those camps and prove himself again.”
Popular knocks on Davis in the past have included a perceived lack of pace or ability to play on the wing. They have recently been joined by concerns about his age and ability to fit into Klinsmann’s tactical system.
Davis, however, has done a lot to dispel those concerns in 2012, and it is not just about the stats.
The 30-year-old believes he is in the best shape of his career, and his three goals and six assists since Houston swtiched to a 4-3-3 formation this season suggest he can pull the strings with comfort and skill in the center of a setup similiar to the one Klinsmann runs with the USMNT.
If Klinsmann is committed to using MLS performance as a baseline, it could be the change that alters Davis’s international fate. Until that call comes, however, Davis’s focus remains on helping the Dynamo, and as a byproduct, continuing to build his own resume.
“Every time I step on the field, I want to do my best and help this team win,” Davis said. “It’s going to be there until I retire. There’s never going to be a time where you don’t want to represent your country. If I play well, the team does well and hopefully that call comes. Until then I’m going to continue to do the same thing, which is come out here push myself and see what happens.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.