Sean Davis' dirty work does New York Red Bulls good

HARRISON, N.J. – Sean Davis produced a skillful assist on Saturday night, his clever ball in the 79th minute setting up Marc Rzatkowski’s goal in the New York Red Bulls 3-2 home win over Sporting Kansas City. While the pass was deft from Davis, the player is equally happy to quietly chug along in the Red Bulls midfield and dutifully do the dirty work to set up his teammates.

In a midfield featuring talent such as Paraguayan international Alejandro “Kaku” Romero Gamarra and US men's national team wunderkind Tyler Adams, it is easy to overlook Davis. In recent years, the strength of this solid side has been their midfield, a group that has also included the likes of veterans Dax McCarty and Sacha Kljestan. Davis has been a quiet presence among this group, rarely putting up gaudy statistics or drawing heady praise for his play.

Saying he doesn’t mind “that the credit isn’t there every single time,” Davis underscored that his value to the Red Bulls lies in his willingness to do the little things to set up his teammates.

“I’m happy you’re noticing that at least,” Davis said. “I know the staff notices and my teammates notice. Again, at the end of the day, the most important thing is finding a way to win. Those are important things to the team, especially in our system it is a requirement for the guys to do the duty work.

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“If I can do the dirty work and make it easier on the other guys, that is the most important thing. I just hope it leads us to wins.”

While players like Kaku and forward Bradley Wright-Phillips make the highlight reel and grab the headlines, Davis’ role is to play just above the Red Bulls backline, clear things up and carry the ball forward. Moments such as Saturday night’s assist to Rzatkowski are few and far between for Davis, who is quietly as vital to the Red Bulls success as any of the bigger names in this starting XI.

“He does all the dirty work, I think that is why he doesn’t get recognized as much as we think he should. He does a lot of things that the defenders really value and maybe a lot of people don’t see as much,” defender Tim Parker told MLSsoccer.com.

“He’s very good at cutting off passing lanes, being on top of the play. When we’re able to win the ball, he’s very good at playing it forward. Not only does he cover ground, I think he makes more plays. When we’re in trouble sometimes, we can rely on him to help us put things us out.”

Davis is an almost automatic for the Red Bulls, having started every league match since April 28. Only once during that stretch did he not play the full 90 minutes.

For a team with legitimate aspirations of taking the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup, the “dirty work” done by Davis could be invaluable if the team picks up any hardware this season.

“Yeah, I think Sean Davis continues to grow; as a soccer player, understanding how to play the six and what the game needs, and he grows as a leader,” head coach Chris Armas said. “You can see that he's the guy, when you scour video after the games, he's the guy pointing, organizing and controlling things out there. Over the course of these years, he continues to grow in all ways and be a big piece, big player here.”