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Charlie Davies Is A Cheat, But Should We Really Care?

That Davies did more than simply "embellish" to earn an eventual game-tying penalty is not really up for debate. What that means to us as fans is.

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On this we should all be able to agree: Charlie Davies is a lying, stinking cheat. Well, maybe the strength of that statement is a bit over the top, but after watching his swan dive in Saturday's 1-1 tie against Real Salt Lake, you have to twist yourself into quite the pretzel to call that anything but cheating.

In case you haven't seen it, here's the wonderful gif of the incident:


Notice how the dive starts before there's any actual contact. Well, notice how there's never any actual contact. The only thing he could have done to make it any better was to actually put his hands over his head in an exaggerated diving pose. We know he still would have gotten the call because, well, Terry Vaughn is clueless enough to offer this pithy response to a reporter's question after the match: "In the 83rd minute, a tripping foul was committed by Real Salt Lake within their own penalty area, resulting in a penalty kick."

But, seriously, this wasn't really meant to be about the absolutely known fact that Charlie Davies is a big fat cheater. More to the point, I wanted to to discuss the whole idea of Americans wringing their hands over this kind of behavior.

I'll admit, in the immediate aftermath, I got a bit caught up in it too. I wondered aloud whether incidents like these -- and this is at least the third time this year that Davies has been accused of going down a little too easily -- could be hurting the still young forward's ability to get back onto the United States national team. That's probably a bit of an overreaction, I'll admit.

Bob Bradley is obviously not too worried about players "making a meal" every now and then. Well, just this past weekend, Jermaine Jones did something very similar when he took quite the dramatic fall after getting lightly clipped while making his way toward the Jamaica goal. (Memo to Davies: What Jones did was rightly deemed embellishment.)

Both Jones' and Davies' actions are a bit educational, though. In both cases, their team received a decided advantage. Davies earned a penalty that ultimately tied the match. Jones essentially got a player red carded, of which the U.S. eventually took advantage.

The fact of the matter is that cheating happens. That's not to say that we should condone it, but on some level we need to stop acting all holier-than-thou when something like this occurs.

If I were a fan of DC United, I might feel a little sheepish about stealing away a point, but I'm not going pretend that I don't enjoy coming out of the fortress Rio Tinto with a tie. Likewise, I would have been a lot more upset if the U.S. had lost that game, but Jones had managed to say on his feet. 

Let's also not act like soccer is somehow special in this regard. Basketball players "sell" foul calls all the time. Does that make them cheaters unworthy of our support? Pitchers have been doctoring the balls ever since they started throwing them, but that hasn't kept guys like Gaylord Perry out of the Hall of Fame. Did Franco Harris pick that ball up off the turf? Only he knows for sure, but he isn't planning to give back his Super Bowl ring.

These things happen. No one got hurt, except for some poor fan who maybe placed an ill-advised marker on RSL +1. Terry Vaughn is still an awful referee, regardless of his making or missing that call. I do feel bad for Chris Wingert, since he did nothing wrong, but I'm sure he'll get over it too. We should probably just follow his lead.