In August, the Revolution responded to Juan Agudelo's end-of-season departure, signing New Hampshire native Charlie Davies from Danish side Randers FC. The media followed with overwhelming support: Julian Cardillo of the Boston Globe described Davies as a "local product with plenty of skill" who is "hungry to bounce back from a rough four-year period;" ESPN Boston beat writer Brian O'Connell believed Davies would thrive in a "sidekick role," providing depth to "inject into the attack when it starts to dull." Davies debuted on August 17, contributing an 11-minute relief appearance during a 2-0 victory over Chicago.
Since that time, the former U.S. International has appeared in just four matches, collecting 12 seemingly irrelevant minutes off the bench. Though few expected Davies to serve as the hero of Jay Heaps' oft-injured attack, Revolution fans anticipated something. Has Heaps given up on the highly-touted forward? Or has Davies simply lost promise along a deep front line?
On September 19, more than a month into Davies' tenure, Cardillo published a follow-up piece that praised Davies work ethic. The article portrayed the Boston College graduate as a "stay after practice" kind of guy, the player who shoots into an empty net until the stadium turns dark. But if Davies has the work rate - and the drive - to fully contribute, why have less-talented strikers continually found the field?
Perhaps the story runs deeper; perhaps Davies' fitness level presents a major concern, driving Heaps and co. to practice patience with the Confederations Cup hero. In October 2009, Davies' survived a near-fatal car accident, sustaining injuries to the head, face, elbow, femur, tibia and bladder. After a six-month recovery, Ligue 1 side Sochaux retained Davies, inserting the forward back into training during the spring of 2010. Davies' French campaign ended shortly therafter, when Sochaux loaned the well-traveled forward to D.C. United.
Despite scoring 11 goals for Ben Olsen's side, skeptics continued to question the striker. Davies developed a reputation for diving, bitterly argued with opponents and publicly challenged Olsen's coaching staff. Without surprise, United failed to make Davies' contract permanent, forcing the young veteran to sign with Randers FC. A goalless 23-match campaign led Davies back to New England - where the much-celebrated striker joined forwards Juan Agudelo, Saer Sene, Dimitry Imbongo, Jerry Bengston, Chad Barrett and Diego Fagundez.
For Davies, a New England soccer product and one-time fan favorite, the transition to Foxboro arrived with considerable pressure. Sure, an 11-goal season with D.C. United wooed faithful supporters, though Davies' true colors always seemed a season or so away. As fans, did we truly believe that Mr. Manchester would instantly impact a forward-heavy attack? Did we honestly expect Davies to immediately return to pre-accident form, recovering from a two-year goalless stint?
Perhaps, with complete transparency, we did hold those expectations; perhaps we had reason to expect immediate results. But with the full picture in mind - the accident, the recovery, the refreshed work rate - we simply cannot deny that Davies, a budget-friendly, historically-talented forward will one day build a legacy in New England. Perhaps we need to admit that one day may not occur in 2013, but instead in 2014 - when the Juan Agudelo-less Revolution have the opportunity carry Davies' more-than-manageable contract.
On Saturday, when the Revolution square off with I-95 rival New York, expect Davies to leave his cape at home; the New Hampshire native has nothing to prove this season. The Charlie Davies saga now holds a seemingly clear conclusion: when the Agudelo era dwindles, the Davies era will ensue. Can we live in the moment?
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