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visca ☮ barça

Davies Resolved to Rebuild a Career

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Charlie Davies awakened in a daze with 25 staples down his abdomen and thought he was in a hostel in Honduras, where bandits were harvesting his organs.

The truth was hardly more comforting: in the early morning of Oct. 13, 2009, after breaking curfew with the United States national team, Davies had been a passenger in a horrible automobile accident in Northern Virginia. The car had hit a guardrail and split in half. Another passenger died. The driver later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and maiming while driving intoxicated.

Davies had become a starting forward on the national team because of his blistering speed, but now his body was splintered with fractures in the femur, tibia and fibula in his right leg, left elbow, left eye socket and nose; a torn knee ligament; and a lacerated bladder. Also shattered were his chances of playing in the 2010 World Cup.

“My eye socket was in pieces, almost like kernels of corn,” Davies, 24, said. “The doctors said they had never seen anything like it.”

Seventeen months later, he still looks at pictures of the accident and of his broken body and wonders, “How did anyone survive that?”

Yet his body and his career have been reconstructed. On loan from his French club, Sochaux, Davies is likely to make his M.L.S. debut Saturday with D.C. United against the Columbus Crew at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, not far from the site of that accident.

He played 90 minutes in an exhibition here March 9, then scored in Saturday’s preseason finale. Still, Davies has not played in a top-flight game in nearly a year and a half. He was not yet a fully mature player before the accident. And there is no way to know whether he can consistently play at an elevated level again.

“How long will it take to put it all together? We don’t know,” said Dave Kasper, the general manager of D.C. United. “We hope it’s sooner rather than later. We’re encouraged by the signs we’ve seen.”

Every day Davies is reminded of the accident: by the rods in his right leg and titanium disks in the floor of his left eye socket that, he said, occasionally set off detectors at airports. By the scars that run along his hip and thigh and knee and shin and elbow and stomach. By the blemish that runs across his head, ear to ear, like a taunting smiley face. By the 60 or so photographs of the broken car and his body and his rehabilitation that remind him how far he has come and how far he has to go.

“I think God said, ‘I give you this as a wake-up call, don’t take things for granted, but you can come back from this — it’s all up to you,’ ” Davies said.

In France, Davies had grown frustrated, relegated to Sochaux’s reserve team. In December, he said he had a conversation with Bob Bradley, coach of the United States national team, who advised him, “At this point you need to play games, and at a higher level than the reserve league you’re in now.”

In February, D.C. United brought in Davies for a tryout. It had little to lose, having set an M.L.S. record for fewest goals scored during a miserable 2010 season.

“To be honest, we were looking to see whether he had his speed back,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “That’s what separated Charlie, made him special.”

For nearly a year, Davies had wondered the same thing.

His speed had put Spain, the world’s No. 1 ranked team, on its heels in the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa and had helped produce a magnificent counterattack goal by Landon Donovan against Brazil. Speed had also sent Davies racing past Mexico’s defense for an assured goal in Estadio Azteca during World Cup qualifying. Now, it seemed to turn on and off, like a faulty switch.

“I doubted myself,” Davies said.

He kept working, running up hills, putting a treadmill on the highest incline, dragging weights, pulling a parachute. Finally, last October, he said: “It was like my muscle memory clicked. I got my speed back.”

His confidence and his timing and touch, though, were caked under layers of rust. Inevitably, there was some reluctance to challenge for headers and throw his body into tackles. Sometimes, Davies said, he did not remain alert when the ball drifted from him.

“Sometimes I didn’t want the ball because I was afraid I would lose it,” he said.

Two weeks into training camp with D.C. United, Olsen called Davies in for a meeting. They watched video, which starkly depicted the reticence that had crept into Davies’s performance.

“One thing I saw was that there wasn’t that fire in his belly that he had before,” Olsen said. “He was surprised how lackadaisical he was out there.”

Since then, Olsen said he had noticed steady improvement.

“He’s gotten a little hungrier, stronger on the ball,” Olsen said. “He’s realizing this is his livelihood again. You’ve got to come back and fight for it. No matter what he’s gone through, guys on the opposing team are still going to be ruthless. He’s going to have to get that back, but I see improvement in every aspect.”

What is not yet fully recovered, Davies admitted, is his fearless determination to charge at a defender with the ball, to “test him, make him tired, keep him guessing.”

“I’ve been a little cautious,” Davies said. “Maybe I beat one defender and slow up, not want to take a chance and potentially lose the ball.”

Josh Wolff, a fellow forward with D.C. United whose career has been tempered by injury, said the last thing to return was often confidence — both confidence in your soccer ability and in your body’s ability to withstand the rigors of the sport.

“The only way to get to that point is grinding through it,” Wolff said of Davies. “Whether it takes a month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, that will be determined. It’s a process. The ideas are there, but continuously being counted on for the little plays, the details, that takes time.”

Santino Quaranta, a D.C. United midfielder who has spoken publicly about his battles with drugs and alcohol, has counseled Davies to embrace this second opportunity “because it can all go away easily; he knows that.”

His judgment was called into question again last October when a car that carried Davies and a Sochaux teammate was stopped by the French police for traveling at 125 miles an hour. Both Davies and the teammate, Jacques Faty, have said Faty was driving, but he asked Davies to switch places with him when they pulled over because Faty feared he would be jailed over a suspended license.

“If I could go back, obviously I wouldn’t do it again,” Davies said.

Eventually, Davies dreams of returning to the national team, which he enlivened and also betrayed, in a sense, by violating curfew and leaving himself vulnerable to ghastly circumstance. Without him to pair with Jozy Altidore, the United States did not receive a single goal from its forwards, exiting the World Cup — prematurely many felt — in the second round. He was left off the United States roster for its exhibition match against Argentina on March 26 at New Meadowlands Stadium.

“I hope to be an example, for youth and pro athletes, that at all times you need to make the right decisions,” Davies said. “Something as small as that could cost you your life or a life’s dream.”

The next day (3/19), Charlie went on to score in the DC United home opener v Columbus Crew not once, but twice (video below). He also scored another penalty this past weekend (3/26) while the USMNT took on Argentina.

& In case you all haven't seen this, it's a video on the 'Miracle in RFK' and has some of the USMNT players reactions and how they preformed in the game the day after finding out about Charlie when the accident first happened. Jozy & Stuart were trying to get it re-tweeted like mad men last week.

I wasn't aware he broke curfew that night until reading this article. But, regardless, I don't care what team you root for, it should never stop you from wishing Charlie Davies all the luck and success in the world. Because man, he deserves it. What a comeback.

this article is from 3/18/11; source.
Tags: charlie davies, league: major league soccer (mls), nt: united states

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  • Wednesday : long post round up

    News I'm just rounding this up;…

  • friday, fri--- my corona!

    Despite coronavirus, it's 'business as usual' for World Cup workers in Qatar Chelsea’s Pedro confirms he will leave club at the end of the…

  • Sunday matches

    Sorry if this formatting is a mess. I am posting this from my phone on a camp site. My Mac refuses to charge. Oh, dear.