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Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Charlie Davies is a gamble worth taking

By Jeff Maurer

First: here's the background reading about Charlie Davies, for the more casual United fans.

A friend recently asked me what I thought was going to happen in Egypt. I said: "I think Mubarak will step down, and in a few months Egypt will elect a democratic government that reflects the will of the people and maintains peace with Israel. Then I will go walking in the woods and find a huge diamond."

It didn't take much reflection for me to realize that that's not necessarily what I think WILL happen: that's what I WANT to happen. And it's easy to fall into the same trap with Charlie Davies. We all WANT him to get healthy, return to his pre-crash form, and score tons of goals for United and the National Team. But, if we're being honest, the scenario in which United blow a bunch of money and their allocation pick while Davies hobbles around like post-shattered-leg Joe Theisman is at least as likely.

But you know what: I hope they do it anyway. I'm not the owner, I'm not management. I'm a fan. My whole attachment to the outcome of grown men in matching clothes kicking a ball into a net is irrational to begin with, so I might as well let hope and imagination dictate my personnel preferences. The Davies gambit might work or might not, but it won't be boring.

And if it works - if Davies can play at the level he was playing at before the crash - it'll be awesome. United will have an elite striker, and Davies will be back in the National Team picture. And all of that will only happen if Davies grows up a bit (including beating his crippling addition to exclamation points). That's something to root for. I don't know the odds of all that happening, but the payoff is big enough to keep me interested.

United will learn a lot during Davies' trial this week (anyone know of a way to get a feed of that exhibition match?). As much as I'm intrigued by this move, if Davies doesn't show much, then I hope United will be level-headed enough to hit the abort button. The sad fact is that some players never regain their speed post-injury. Players such as...Ben Olsen. Benny was at least skilled enough to re-invent himself as a defensive midfielder, but Davies without speed is like soup without sodium: completely useless.

But if Davies shows flashes of his old self...then go for it. Is it a gamble? Absolutely. But you know what: every signing is a gamble. In case you haven't noticed, United haven't exactly been hitting tape-measure home runs with their recent foreign signings. Pontius-Wolff is a serviceable front line, so we don't need to throw Davies into the fire right away. And if he gets to where he was before the crash, he'll be the best striker in MLS; that's an upside that United would be hard-pressed to match with any foreign signing. Davies may or may not make United better, but he'll definitely make them more interesting.

What's your take? Vote in a Soccer Insider poll here.

By Jeff Maurer  | February 2, 2011; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  Jeff Maurer, Soccer, United  | Tags:  DC United, Jeff Maurer  
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Next: The rationale of fan irrationality


All credit to loftily worded pragmatism, but if he's at all healthy he walks into the first team...

Posted by: JkR- | February 2, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I concur.

Good piece!

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | February 2, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Even if CD9 doesn't quite get back to pre-Crash form, 7/8th or even 3/4 of that form still makes him one of the top strikers in MLS and a worthy risk. All of DC's other striker options have some sort of question mark about them, and Charlie has the greatest potential upside of any of them.

Posted by: joemybro | February 2, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

@joemybro AMEN

Posted by: lrg123123 | February 2, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Go Charlie, you can do it!

Posted by: dclivejazz | February 2, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Like soup without sodium.
You sir, are a professional. Well played.

Posted by: dsheon1 | February 2, 2011 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Many players that simply have an ACL reconstruction are never the same pace wise again. (see Beasley, DeMarcus). I hope I'm wrong, but based on the comments from Sochaux's medical people... Davies is not the Davies we all remember---and he shouldn't be... I'm just glad he's alive, frankly.

I guess I'm just disappointed that this is the BIG SIGNING... the best we can do is take a flyer on a guy? Where is our front office scouting that they can't come up with a DP striker (of some sort...a guy that is at least healthy) during the transfer season?? Unbelievable really.

Posted by: harryfuchs | February 3, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure after Davies speeding incident in France that will likely land Davies in court, Sochaux pretty much said "this kid just doesn't get it".

Why Davies is still pulling stupid stunts like this so close after surviving an accident that nearly killed him may say something about his complete lack of commons sense. Of course a similar type of pro athlete will be playing in the super bowl this weekend so stupidity off the field doesn’t always directly translate to playing ability on the field.

Let’s just pray that Davies never gets in another car for the rest of his life. I’m 100% supportive of keeping him on house arrest in RFK and only letting him play during home games.

Posted by: Southeasterner | February 3, 2011 10:51 PM | Report abuse

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