For four painstaking years, former USMNT forward Charlie Davies coveted a return to stardom, a label that seemingly alluded him overnight. Less-than inspiring stops with D.C. United and Danish-side Randers FC left many supporters wondering if the Confederations Cup hero would ever show signs of his pre-accident form, which landed Davies among a select group of international mainstays.
After 23 scoreless appearances with Randers FC, Davies received a call from an ambitious New England Revolution club who expressed an interest in bringing him home. Though President Brian Billelo's intrigue spoke more to Davies' past than his present, the forward reveled in a renewed opportunity to prove his doubters wrong. After all, signs pointed toward a successful tenure with Jay Heaps and his up-and-coming club: not only would Davies return to his beloved New England roots, he would have the opportunity to earn minutes along a shallow Revolution front line.
Unfortunately for Davies, this storybook return raised more questions than it answered. The journeyman struggled to break into the Starting XI--or the matchday 18, for that matter--and failed to leave anything more then a neutral impact on the field. Before long, the excitement that followed Davies' arrival led to frustration about his lack of playing time. Some fans speculated about his match fitness, while others wondered if he had regressed to the point of no return. By October, we raised concerns of our own, drawing the conclusion that Davies would impact the future--2014 and beyond--more than the present, with the departure of Juan Agudelo creating a significant void in the Revolution attack.
In early 2014, however, the Revolution seemingly overlooked Davies as a Starting XI candidate, acquiring forward Teal Bunbury as a top attacking solution. This time, the excitement that followed Davies' arrival turned to indifference--Revolution supporters fully believed in Bunbury's New England resurgence. As it turned out, Jay Heaps also had faith in the former Akron star, immediately inserting Bunbury into a prominent attacking role. His decision launched the revolution into a week-in, week-out personnel shuffle, with Bunbury and rookie Patrick Mullins vying for a starting spot. Neither player proved capable of sustaining the lone striker position and, after nearly a full year in navy and red, a healthy Charlie Davies brought his heart-warming story back into the Starting XI.
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The Manchester Man never looked back.
In the final months of the season, Davies contributed three goals and four assists, continually finding his form while helping the Revolution find theirs. By taking over the center forward position in Heaps' 4-1-4-1, Davies enabled Bunbury to permanently slide into a "target winger" position, a move that birthed new life into the Revolution attack. The rest, as we know, is history, as the team finished the season on the cusp of an offensive outpouring.
Now four goals into an impressive postseason run, and one match from an MLS Cup title, Davies, a reborn local legend, taught Revolution supporters to practice patience. He showed us what it means to persevere--not just overcoming injury and emotional hardship, but constantly striving to silence doubters and exceed expectations. He showed us what it means to excel and enjoy, dancing his way into a postseason performance for the ages. He showed us how to lead others, from his difficult upbringing in Manchester, New Hampshire, when he often played mother, father and brother, to his influence in the Revolution locker room. And he showed us what it means to put everything on the line, evidenced by the spacer that fills his right boot, a tool that accommodates his shorter right leg.
Perhaps more than anything, Davies showed us how to believe: the man who experienced an incomprehensible transition from bedside to wheelchair to MLS Cup finalist has faith in himself and his teammates, trusting that his club will soon hoist the Anschutz trophy.
We, too, must keep the faith--in Charlies Davies, in his championship-ready surrounding cast, and in a New England Revolution club that appears ready to turn four MLS Cup losses into one decisive victory. Hurry boys, it's waiting there for you.