Charlie Davies is Back
The most astonishing story of the past week wasn’t the Cinderella run of VCU, the NFL labor dispute fiasco, or Butler’s late game heroics. It had nothing to do with Jimmer, Carmelo, or Ochocinco. The most inspiring story to hit sports in a long time was the return of Charlie Davies.
Against Egypt in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, Coach Bob Bradley gave a relatively unknown 22 year old striker his first start in a major competition. Soccer fans quickly got acquainted with Davies when he scored the match’s opening goal in the 21st minute. The gritty striker’s speed and hustle tortured the Egyptian defense and allowed the United States to advance to the knockout round with a 3-0 victory. Davies churned out phenomenal performances in the ensuing upset win over Spain and subsequent heartbreak against Brazil. Repeated strong performances in World Cup qualifiers made Americans tab Davies as one of the most important players in the impending World Cup campaign.
These huge expectations were immediately cut in October 2009. A day before a pivotal match against Costa Rica, an SUV carrying Davies and two others struck a pole on the George Washington Parkway. Unlike one of the other passengers, Davies was lucky to survive. He left the scene far from unscathed, however; Davies’ long list of injuries sustained includes a fractured tibia, femur, and elbow, lacerated bladder, and hemorrhaging. As brutal as that sounds, doctors said that he would probably be able to play in the World Cup in eight months. His rehabilitation took longer than expected, however, and Davies missed not only the World Cup, but also the rest of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.
This past Saturday, Charlie Davies played in his first competitive soccer game in over seventeen months, coming on as a substitute for DC United in its MLS season opener against the Columbus Crew. Shortly after, DC was awarded a penalty kick. Despite only touching the ball once since entering the game, Davies confidently stepped up to take it. The composed striker calmly slotted the ball into the goal before celebrating wildly. Soon after, Davies wrong-footed a defender and deftly rounded the goalkeeper to tally his second goal of the game.
Even though DC won 3-1, the triumphant return of Charlie Davies overshadowed the final score. After the game, a reporter approached an emotional Davies and asked him if this was the best night of his career. The beaming striker replied, “No, this was the best night of my life.”