WASHINGTON – The long and arduous road to recovery for Charlie Davies has taken a new turn, officially arriving at RFK Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
The 24-year old’s comeback from life-threatening injuries sustained in an October 2009 crash placed his professional career in limbo. After 16 months working, rehabbing and training, Davies was unable to crack the Sochaux lineup. However, he landed a trial with DC, impressed, and will now join the team on a season-long loan.
Just to have a chance at first team action again has left him appreciative towards his new club.
“I’m very thankful and grateful for D.C. United giving me this chance to come here and prove myself again to the American public, and the world, that I’m back,” he said in a press conference.
Davies hopes this brand new phase is just what he needs to show what he is capable of doing on the field.
“I needed a new atmosphere, a new environment and I found it,” he said. “I’m extremely excited and happy; I haven’t felt this way in a while. It’s definitely a great feeling.”
This new course will take Davies to the city where he almost not only lost his career but also his life.
The long battle back has been arduous. The scars are still clearly visible on his head, and he acknowledged they provide a daily reminder of the accident, whether or not he is playing in the city where he sustained them. Davies spoke on how he maintained his spirit and kept his head up in a difficult situation.
“The downs definitely outweighed the ups,” he said. “[But] in training I would do one move right and it would feel like the old me and that’s what kept me going.”
According to coaches and players, Davies fit in well during his short trial period. D.C. United has a young group in camp, and Davies already knew a number of them, including Stephen King, Santino Quaranta and Dax McCarty, from previous soccer experiences.
Still, he knew that he had to win their confidence by showing he is ready to help his team win.
“You’ve got to come in and prove to your teammates not only are you good, but you’re really going help the team,” he said. "For me, it was really important to show the guys I’m back, I can help this team win games."
And while his recovery may not yet be 100 percent complete, both general manager Dave Kasper and head coach Ben Olsen said they believe Davies is in a place where he can contribute this year.
Olsen indicated that he wouldn’t have made the move if he didn’t think Davies was ready.
“Of course I was prepared to say no,” he said. “This was a big piece for us. If it’s not a good piece, it’s not going to look good on me. We feel very, very comfortable with where [Davies is] at.”
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In Olsen, Davies has a coach who can relate to making a comeback. Back in his playing days, Olsen suffered severe ankle injuries that hampered him in the later part of his career. And while he was clear that the severity of his injuries couldn’t compare to Davies’, Olsen was equally clear that he’d be there to support his new striker on Davies’ quest to return to full fitness.
“The mentality of coming back from an injury is still that mentality,” Olsen said. “Certainly, I’ve gone through that, and if I can help he knows I’m here for advice with that stuff. He seems to have a pretty good handle on that, and his work ethic I know, from talking to trainers he’s dealt with since the accident, has been tremendous.”
D.C. United and Davies still have just over a month to prepare for the season opener against the Columbus Crew. Over the next few weeks, he now has a target date to focus on, and a chance to appear in first team action and finally show people what he believes he is capable of doing.