Amidst a busy July schedule and with the 5-1 midweek thumping by the LA Galaxy fresh in his mind, head coach Jay Heaps made five changes to the starting lineup ahead of the New England Revolution's game against FC Dallas. While it was interesting to see Scott Caldwell, Steve Neumann and Stephen McCarthy in the starting eleven, no name drew more attention than Charlie Davies.
Saturday's game marked Davies' first MLS start since October 19, 2011 when he was with D.C. United. The New Hampshire native joined the Revolution on loan for the last portion of the 2013 season before becoming a full-fledged member of the team on January 9, 2014.
Davies was optimistic about his latest soccer venture, telling media at the end of 2013 that he was looking forward to being the player that the Revolution could "count on to score goals game in and game out." Unfortunately for Davies, he has spent a significant amount of this season dealing with injuries with Saturday being only his fourth appearance.
With the injuries now behind him, Davies contributed 56 minutes as a lone striker against Dallas. Despite the short stint, something that largely had to do with fitness, Davies received high praise from Heaps. The gaffer told Revolutionsoccer.net that Davies did "everything we asked of him."
The question is, did Davies do enough to remain in the starting lineup for this weekend's game against the Columbus Crew?
It should first be noted that Davies didn't record a single shot against FC Dallas. While this statistic is obviously concerning since strikers are expected to score, it should be put into perspective. The Revs struggled as a whole on Saturday and the team only mustered nine shots with three being on goal.
If Davies wasn't shooting, what was he doing?
The Boston College product spent most of his night battling the Dallas back line, often with his back to goal. In total, Davies won three free kicks with the most dangerous opportunity coming in the 44th minute after he was dragged down by Stephen Keel. The play, as presented courtesy of MLS Live, showcases the holdup play that the Revolution want from their lone striker.
Davies was also working hard to combine with his fellow teammates. According to the MLS Chalkboard, Davies made 13 pass attempts with only one proving to be unsuccessful. His combination play with Neumann in the 37th minute was particularly impressive as Davies quickly played the ball wide before a defender could approach him.
The one thing that Davies could have done more of, besides shooting, was take on opponents. In the 13th minute, Davies found himself one-on-one with Matt Hedges but he wasn't creative enough to get past him. The play eventually led to a turnover and a missed opportunity. This moment could serve as evidence of diminishing confidence, a lack of fitness or simply an understanding that all of his teammates were behind him. Regardless, Davies needs to be bold enough to take advantage of those types of situations.
It will be interesting to see who Heaps turns to on Saturday night. The Revs are on a seven game losing streak, which is the longest of the post shootout era (2000-present), and they will surely want to get things right at home. Davies main competition for the starting position is Patrick Mullins, though Teal Bunbury, Saer Sene, Jerry Bengtson and Dimitry Imbongo have experience playing as the lone forward.