Davis will partner with Felipe in midfield for the Red Bulls’ CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg against the Vancouver Whitecaps (8 pm ET, UDN), replacing former club captain Dax McCarty who was traded to the Chicago Fire last month. Davis already replaced McCarty for portions of last season and left the technical staff with the impression that he could handle more playing time. In that regard, head coach Jesse Marsch sees the increased opportunity for Davis as a reward.
“I think Sean has already had a great career with us in two years,” Marsch said. “He’s had a good preseason and he’s ready for some big challenges.”
Davis is at the front of the class of Homegrown players that the Red Bulls will rely on in 2017. He already has Champions League experience, having appeared in every game in last year's group stage.
Davis said he was as surprised as the rest of his teammates to find out McCarty had been traded but entered this preseason with the same approach. Like the rest of the team, he’s been working to understand Marsch’s 4-2-2-2 formation and his role within it.
“I like to consider myself as a box-to-box midfielder that can help in both boxes and not only be effective on the defensive end and breaking up plays but also going forward and helping the attack,” Davis said. “I’m just trying to be the most complete midfielder I can possibly be.”
As midfield partners in the new system, Davis and Felipe will be the holding midfielders, both serving in a two-way role. Felipe said he was forming a good partnership with Davis, who he said is both smart and can cover a lot of ground.
Sacha Kljestan echoed Felipe’s confidence in Davis. Kljestan said Davis has already proved himself to his teammates, and that he would already be a starter on almost any other MLS team were it not for the veterans that were ahead of him.
“When he goes down to play a USL game, he’s always the best player on the field," Kljestan said."He’s got a great mentality. I’ve learned that pretty young, you can see guys that just understand what it takes and he understands what it takes to be a professional.”
Despite the faith from his teammates, Davis said he still has work to do.
“I don’t ever want to be comfortable with where I am in the team. I have to show up with an attitude that I want to prove myself and I think if I can hold onto that mentality then it’ll go a long way to me improving as player and contributing to this team as much as possible.”