Charlie Davies, before Wednesday night’s World Cup Qualifier against Honduras, offered a raw, heartfelt perspective on the Weston McKennie controversy that’s engulfed the US men’s national team in recent days.
Davies, speaking as part of the CBS Sports broadcast, holds a unique perspective on McKennie’s suspension and eventual dismissal from September’s Octagonal camp, one where the Juventus midfielder didn't feature in the 1-1 draw with Canada and was sent back to Europe.
The former USMNT striker, of course, had his professional career derailed by a life-threatening car accident in October 2009, choosing to go out and break curfew after a South Africa 2010 spot was locked up. Conversely, McKennie broke team COVID-19 protocols – a situation the 23-year-old acknowledged on Instagram and then an ESPN report detailed as involving multiple bubble-breaking instances.
Given that background, Davies’ visceral commentary struck a particular chord across the USMNT community.
“I let down my family, I let down my teammates, I let down all of you, I let down the nation, and you feel it. I still feel it,” Davies said. “Actually, I feel gratitude because everyone kind of gave me that belief. They stuck with me. They didn’t give up on me, as crazy as it was.
"And I was 23 years old, same age as Weston. I’m not giving Weston the opportunity to say, ‘Oh it’s a mistake, you’re going to grow from it.' What I will say is this has already happened with Juventus. This has now happened with the country. Three strikes you’re out.
“For me, it’s you have to grow from this,” Davies added. "I had a tremendous perspective after waking up in a hospital and realizing, 'Oh, things aren’t going to be the same.'”
Taking into account the lessons he's learned and recovery from a near-death experience, Davies stressed how important it is for McKennie to show similar growth. And Davies, who had four goals in 17 USMNT caps, expects McKennie to take hold of this moment. He was in a similar situation club-wise before his accident, playing for Sochaux in Ligue 1.
"I never had the opportunity to put on the shirt again, and I would’ve killed for it," Davies said. "But I think for Weston, we all know his growth and his future and what he means for this national team now and for the future, so if he can’t learn from this moment now after letting down everybody, looking at himself in the mirror and saying, 'Hey, I’ve got to hold myself accountable,' then he doesn’t deserve to wear the US national team jersey. Absolutely not.
"But I do believe, after this, you can’t but not appreciate the gift that you’ve been given and the opportunity. You have to come back with a vengeance. So if he can come back and be that guy that the US national team needs him to be, covering so much ground, making those goals off of set pieces, and being able to disrupt the other team, then we’re going to see a new and improved Weston McKennie. And I fully believe he’s going to learn."