The tale of Charlie Davies is dominated by his October 2009 car accident and to this point, it ends with that accident too. After three years at Boston College, Davies signed with Hammarby where he took off in his second season. In 2008, Davies scored 14 goals in 27 matches as he emerged as Hammarby’s top striker, but also as a target of clubs from bigger leagues. After a strong start to his 2009 season, Davies was signed to Sochaux in Ligue 1 and scored a brace in his second match with the club to continue his rise up the U.S. soccer ranks.
A part of the United States youth teams, Davies forced his way onto the senior team in early 2009. Davies’ break out with the national team came at that summer’s Confederations Cup though where he scored against Egypt and started to form what would be an emerging strike partnership with Jozy Altidore. A goal against Mexico at Azteca Stadium pushed Davies’ reputation even higher in the U.S. soccer world, but in October everything changed.
Having qualified for the World Cup a couple days earlier, the U.S. went to Washington D.C. for their final qualifying match, one that Davies would not play in as he nursed a minor injury. In D.C., Davies went out with friends and on his way back to the team hotel after curfew the car that Davies was in was involved in a single car accident that killed the driver. Davies suffered a lacerated bladder, fractured right tibia and femur, a fractured elbow, facial injuries, and bleeding on the brain. People questioned whether Davies would walk again, let alone play soccer. He recovered amazingly quickly, but could not get back to speed in time for the 2010 World Cup or even back on the field for Sochaux in the fall and winter of 2010 so he made a one-year loan to DC United in hopes of playing and reviving his career.
What will be the biggest adjustment Davies will have to make?
Simply playing match in and match out will be the biggest adjustment for Davies. Oct. 10, 2009 was the last time Davies played in a competitive match so he hasn’t been tested at the top level in a year and a half. The physical demands of playing 90 minutes, of dealing with the physicality, of regaining his health and then coming back and doing it several days later after a long trip will be a gigantic challenge for Davies.
What kind of impact can Davies have on his team?
Davies can have a huge impact on DC United if he can return to health and form. Prior to his injury, Davies was playing at a level that would make him one of, if not the best, strikers in MLS. For a team that was downright horrid last season goals will be at a premium. Outside of Davies, Josh Wolff is the best striker DC has and the aging former speedster is on his last legs. With Chris Pontius, Santino Quaranta, Dax McCarty and Andy Najar in the midfield, Davies will get service and chances. If healthy, he can bag goal after goal and possibly lead DC to the playoffs.
What's a reasonable expectation in terms of production and playing time?
It’s tough to say what a reasonable expectation is with someone like Davies because there isn’t another player who has gone through similar injuries to compare him to. The injuries that Davies suffered were at one point possibly life threatening so how is he supposed to respond and recover back on the professional soccer stage? Is it physically possible to get back the speed, explosion and strength that he once had? Those are all questions that cannot be answered so the best that one could hope for is that he’s recovered enough to play match in and match out and score a handful of goals or so.
What's the ceiling on Davies?
If Davies can get back to the health and form he was at before his accident, Davies could be the best striker in MLS. He had blazing speed and is much stronger than he appears. He was tough and had a good first touch as well as finishing touch. Davies had everything that one would want in a striker and if he can get all of that back he can easily lead the league in scoring.