Less than 18 months after a car wreck nearly claimed his life and ended his career, US international Charlie Davies is trying to get back on track with a week-long training stint with D.C. United. Should things work out for the Sochaux striker, a 12-month loan agreement has already been negotiated and agreed to.
On a Friday afternoon conference call, the 24-year-old expressed his expectations and thrill at playing for United coach Ben Olsen.
“I’d say that it’s a wonderful opportunity for me,” Davies said. “For me to have a coach I had a chance to play with ... he knows what I need to do to get back to that. He’s been there and he’s done it.”
Olsen himself had numerous severe injuries, and had to make a mid-career comeback. The intangibles involved in a long-term rehabiliation seem to be playing a part in Olsen's determination of whether Davies will be a part of the United squad.
“I’ve had the fortune of already knowing [Davies] and knowing some of his intangibles that I love,” Olsen explained. “I don’t have to check those boxes. They’re already checked as far the competitiveness and mentality. His intangibles are good which is why he was so successful and has got him back to where he is now. That side is there. We need to evaluate him as a soccer player now and where he is.”
[inline_node:327654]Davies said a strenuous workout regimen in the months since his injuries—which included a broken tibia and femur as well as bleeding on the brain—has put him in shape close to what he was before the accident.
“I feel really good with my speed at the moment,” Davies said. “At times I feel so, so fast, I feel great and I feel quick. I feel that I’ve taken the necessary strides that I need to get back to be successful. I’m very happy with that. But you can always improve on every facet of your game. Do I need to improve on different things? Of course.”
When asked what the biggest challenge would be, Davies stated it would be getting back to game sharpness.
“I haven’t played in a year at a high level of competition,” he said. “I still have to progress but I’m happy with where I’m at right now, and with work I’ll be a force and back to being a successful striker.”
Whether Davies can regain the form that thrilled US soccer fans at the 2009 Confederations Cup and the qualifying for the 2010 World Cup remains to be seen, of course. The US soccer world's giddy reaction to the news of Davies' arrival at United camp seems over the top considering his lack of playing time recently. And Olsen is quick to insist that that Davies must be the right fit for the club, despite the fans' enthusiasm.
“I’m not going to let anyone come to this team that I don’t feel comfortable with,” Olsen said. “I select the guys for this team. It’s that simple."
Davies seems comfortable with the parameters. In fact, he has great confidence that he will rediscover his form with D.C. United and then be in Sochaux's plans in the future.
“I think Sochaux knows that I will eventually get to where they want me to be," he said. "The problem now is two strikers in front of me both have nine goals each and are [tied for sixth] in the league in goal-scoring.
"At the time, the coach has his hands tied as far as giving me the chance to show what I can do and to get the playing time I need to get back into form. That’s where it is right now. I've moved on to try and get in the right situation, which I think I’ve found."