Hamstring slows Davies’ comeback from accident
A week ago, when Charlie Davies was leading MLS with six goals,
it would have been easy to gloss over the details and check him off
the list. Yep, he’s back. The player who suffered those horrific
injuries in an automobile accident 19 months ago was pretty much
his old self again.
Of course, it’s not that simple, and what happened over the
weekend was a timely reminder that he still has a ways to go.
Davies left the first half of D.C. United’s game against the
Colorado Rapids on Saturday with a strained hamstring.
And it happened in front of U.S. national coach Bob Bradley, who
was at the game to scout players as he considers his roster for
next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.
”It was a bummer to have to come out,” Davies said, ”but I
did the smart thing and came out before I made it worse.”
Davies will miss this weekend’s friendly against Dutch club Ajax
and hopes to return for United’s next MLS game on May 29, but the
injury all but ended any chance he had of making his national team
return at the monthlong Gold Cup.
For now, he’ll have to settle for an uplifting consolation prize
– the fact that he’s playing at all, that he’s has indeed been
scoring goals, that he has regained his confidence, that he managed
to play 90 minutes in three consecutive games. It was that grueling
stretch, he speculates, that might have led to his hamstring
”I played three full games in nine days,” Davies said. ”That
would be pretty tiresome for any player. After we had a tough
training session on Tuesday, I decided to lift, and I might’ve
fatigued my muscles even more.”
Davies’ story is now well-documented. He was out past curfew in
the Washington, D.C., area before the U.S. team’s World Cup
qualifier against Costa Rica in October 2009 when he was in a
one-car crash that killed another passenger and left Davies with a
ruptured bladder, bleeding on the brain, a broken and dislocated
left elbow, broken bones in his right leg and a broken nose,
forehead and eye socket. The driver pleaded guilty to involuntary
manslaughter and drunken driving and was recently sentenced to two
years in prison.
Thanks to the power of the Internet, fans organized a tribute to
Davies at RFK Stadium by holding up white signs with his jersey No.
9 during the ninth minute at the Costa Rica game. The photo is
featured on Davies’ Twitter page, but he wasn’t aware it happened
until two months after the accident, during the early stages of his
His first reaction: ”Cry.”
”Just tears,” Davies said. ”I still get goose bumps every
time I see that game. It’s a pretty eerie feeling.”
When healthy again, Davies went back to his French club,
Sochaux, but his only playing time came in exhibitions and with the
”It was a depressing environment, the situation I was in,”
Davies said. ”The management of the club, they didn’t want me to
succeed. They told me, they didn’t basically want me to get back so
they could get money for me from insurance. When you hear that,
it’s almost surreal, because after everything I’ve been though, you
would do that to me?”
MLS was the solution. United agreed to take Davies on loan from
the French club, with the option to keep him as a permanent
transfer at the end of this year.
Davies overcame his self-doubts during training camp and worked
his way into the lineup, starting six of United’s first 10 games.
He also moved to the top of the league in goals scored, although
three of his six came on penalty kicks. He’s now second to Landon
Donovan, who has seven.
But there are subtle things that Davies still needs to work on,
things that would seem obvious for anyone who has had his body
banged and bruised in horrific way.
”Taking defenders on more often,” he said, ”being confident
running at defenders one-on-one. And, I think, just being more
Davies readily speaks about the accident when asked, citing the
inspirational nature of his story. He said he was particularly
moved when a mother and son approached him before a game at
Houston; the son was rehabilitating severe leg and chest injuries
and considered Davies his hero.
”I was amazed at how my story and my experiences could help
this kid,” Davies said.
Davies also has his finance, Nina, who pushed him around in his
wheelchair and motivated him through the ups and downs of rehab.
Their wedding date has been set for June 9, 2012.
If that sounds like advance planning, Davies also has another
important date in mind two years later. He is determined to be on
the U.S. team at the 2014 World Cup, having missed the 2010
tournament because of his accident.
”I’m still a work in progress,” Davies said, ”because I’m
still not the player I want to be.”
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP