FOX Soccer Exclusive
Davis eager to showcase skills, worth
Nothing Brad Davis ever did quite seemed like enough to earn a place in the United States men’s national team. His crosses and set pieces tormented defenses; his overall displays placed him among the best players in MLS year after year; his résumé glittered with all-star appearances and championship rings. And yet nothing changed.
Every achievement he collected and every landmark he reached along the way left Davis' national team prospects in the same place: out in the cold. It didn't matter that he boasted the best left foot in the pool after Eddie Lewis stepped aside or that he proved himself worthy of an extended opportunity to sink or swim at the international level time and time again. The questions about his fitness or his physical capabilities at a higher pace of play somehow prevented the transition despite considerable evidence to indicate he possessed the technique to make up for his perceived shortcomings.
In his prime years, Davis – one of the best domestic players of his generation – collected exactly five caps. Before Tuesday's match, David featured twice under Bruce Arena during the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He played in three nondescript friendlies – one in 2008 and two in 2010 – under Bob Bradley. And that's it.
Davis could have given up hope as time progressed and trained his sights solely on his ample duties with the Dynamo. Instead, he buckled down and waited for his opportunity.
“For me, I just felt something deep down and said, you know what, continue to push yourself, continue to work as hard as you can and hopefully that call comes,” Davis said after training on the noticeably roomier field inside BBVA Compass Stadium on Monday night.
It arrived in time to bring him into the squad for Tuesday’s friendly against Canada. The scenario – a 31-year-old attempting to grasp this long-awaited and perhaps fleeting chance in a game played at his home stadium – comes straight out of movie script. If the ending unfolds as it would in Hollywood, then Davis would finally establish himself as a regular on the international scene.
Early signs suggest Davis made a positive impression during his two-and-a-half weeks with this youthful squad in California. US coach Jürgen Klinsmann lauded Davis' technique to reporters and said he would have called Davis into January camp last year if the veteran midfielder's quad injury had complied. Davis said his new boss provided helpful feedback as he adjusted to a fresh set of demands.
“Really, the [situation] is going to come down to the games and what you can do on the field,” Davis said. “I know I'm a piece of the puzzle. But where I fit in is still yet to be seen. Games like [the one against Canada] are an opportunity.”
Klinsmann's concept of the board in front of him accommodates Davis' skills and provides a place for him as a potential contributor on the left flank. Davis' lack of pace isn't a particular issue here with Fabian Johnson willing to overlap and supply width. Johnson's tendencies – perhaps replicated imperfectly by the speedy Justin Morrow if the Earthquakes defender features at left back – would allow Davis to float into spaces as he does with the Dynamo and offer another creative outlet if the Americans are chasing the game for some reason.
Most of the people poised to witness it have shared in this lengthy wait with him. As Davis prepares to take the field to their roar and tries to make up for all of those missed chances to impress earlier in his career, he plans to cherish the fact that he can now prove he warrants the spot that eluded him for far too long.
Kyle McCarthy writes about the beautiful game for FOX Soccer, the Boston Herald and several other publications. Follow him on Twitter @kylejmccarthy.
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