Could There Actually Be Good News for the USMNT Strikers?

↵It was just over three months ago that Charlie Davies was involved in a car accident in the wee hours of the morning outside Washington, D.C. that claimed the life of another passenger in the car. The lead to the AP story from that day read: ↵

↵
↵⇥U.S. national soccer team forward Charlie Davies had several broken bones and a lacerated bladder after a one-vehicle accident Tuesday in which another person was killed. ↵⇥

↵⇥Davies underwent several hours of surgery at Washington Hospital Center Medstar, where he was listed in serious but stable condition. The injuries make it unlikely Davis will play in next year's World Cup. ↵⇥

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↵Someone forgot to tell that to Davies. Ives Galarcep wrote an amazing feature on Davies for ESPN this week – amazing in that it explains how Davies is so far ahead of schedule from his injuries and surgeries that there's not just a chance, but a likelihood that the striker will be back, and playing, with the USMNT in time for the World Cup this summer. ↵
↵⇥What does this progress mean, exactly? It means that, barring any setbacks, Davies could be back on the field with club team FC Sochaux by April, meaning his chances of playing for the United States in June's World Cup should no longer be seen as a shattered dream. ↵⇥

↵⇥"Charlie is pretty much light years ahead of where anybody would tell you he should be," said Jim Hashimoto, the former U.S. national team trainer who is overseeing Davies rehabilitation. "When everybody heard about the accident, including myself, it was like, 'OK, this is going to be a long one' -- and it's still going to be a long one, but to see his progress is pretty amazing." ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥Just how amazing? The multiple broken bones in his leg, face and elbow have healed. So has a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and he has recovered from bladder surgery, which left a foot-long scar on his stomach. ↵⇥

↵
↵Davies has regained the weight he lost during his six different surgeries after the crash and will likely start training with Sochaux in February after he has a plate and screws removed from his left elbow. ↵

↵Per Galarcep, Davies looks the same as he did before the crash, with the obvious exception of scars from the many surgeries he endured, the most visible being the scar from ear to ear over the top of his skull where, "doctors peeled his face off down to his chin in order to repair the multiple fractures that left his facial bones a shattered mess." ↵

↵

↵They peeled off his face and he could be training for the World Cup less than six months later. Oguchi Onyewu, recovering from his own knee injury in preparation for the World Cup called Davies recovery "sort of a Superman story." It really is incredible that Davies is even walking, let alone rehabilitating and expecting to join his club team in February. Davies told Galarcep that the on-going debate in the soccer community – and in the media – of who will replace him on the World Cup roster has driven him to get back to this point. ↵

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↵⇥"That's what's been driving me this whole time," Davies said. "I've been looking at Web sites the whole time and they're always saying, 'We need to find a replacement for Charlie. We need to find someone because he's not going to be back.' ↵⇥

↵⇥"These people don't know," Davies said. "They don't know me, and if they just knew me alone, let alone the determination and will I have now, you guys don't know. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥"When I tell people I'm doing agility on the ladder and I'm running on the treadmill, people are like, 'No way.' They tell me, 'If you're back, this is the greatest comeback in the history of sports.' ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥"It feels good when I hear all this talk because I'm going to be able to play two months in France. I plan on making a difference at the World Cup." ↵⇥

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↵The news could not come at a better time for the USMNT, as one of their other promising strikers, Clint Dempsey, recently went down with a knee injury that looked like it might keep him out of the World Cup as well. ↵

↵But per a report at Fanhouse, word is that Dempsey's knee injury isn't as bad as first believed. ↵

↵
↵⇥It appeared Dempsey's Premier League season and World Cup dreams had been left shattered when the forward suffered the injury at Blackburn earlier this month. ↵⇥

↵⇥Yet subsequent scans revealed far less damage than at first thought, and the Texan hopes to be back in action in the next month or so. If ever there was a good time to suffer this type of injury, then this was it. ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥Dempsey can enjoy the benefits of a restorative six-week break and return refreshed for the final quarter of the season to ensure he's fully back up to speed in plenty of time for the big South African jamboree. ↵⇥

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↵The biggest knock on the USMNT on the international stage has always been the lack of offensive firepower, but Davies, Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, who has had far more success for the national team than any club, were expected to help change the fortunes of the U.S. side in South Africa. Let's be honest, the thought of Brian Ching logging meaningful minutes in the World Cup does not have U.S. Soccer fans jumping up and down singing Allez. But if Dempsey can get back into form, and Davies can finish his miraculous recovery, the USMNT has a lot more strike up front than they thought just a few days ago. ↵

↵And if Gooch can return on the back line as well, the only real glaring weakness for the USMNT becomes the lack of depth in the midfield, and who will serve the balls to the finishers up front. Please, someone put Landon Donovan in protective custody. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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