Charlie Davies on the bear hug, the Stanky Leg, Georgetown and Raclette
Truth be told, I've sort of ignored D.C. United for the better part of two years. I mean, when the Wizards and Redskins lose, they do so in spectacular fashion, with high-profile players getting suspended for gun gags and failing shuttle tests and getting benched and traded and arrested. Missing the MLS playoffs can't compare with winning the NBA lottery.
But it seems United is making moves back into my sweet spot, with its quotable head coach, its increasingly charismatic roster and now, its addition of Charlie Davies, who does equally well on Google and on the field. Thus, nine items from Wednesday's introductory festivities.
1) He promises the Stanky Leg will return. A lot of people got a lot of joy out of Davies's rendition of the Stanky Leg during U.S. international play. That, though, was a long time ago, so I asked whether he would bring the dance to RFK Stadium.
"I'm gonna have to pull that out at least one time. for sure," he told me. "I feel like it could have been [overplayed], but I feel like after this accident, people just haven't seen it in a while, and it needs to be seen. It just has to be. I think it's like a statement."
So, uh, what's the statement?
"I'm back," Davies said.
I also asked Coach Ben Olsen whether he was familiar with the dance.
"I've seen it, yeah," Olsen said. "I just hope to see it quite a bit this year. Hey, you score a goal, you can do whatever you want."
2) He wants to live in the city. For years, I've bemoaned the lack of star athletes living in the actual District of Columbia. Olsen was, for a long time, the standard bearer in this regard. Donald Brashear represented D.C. for a short time, and John Wall is a Washingtonian now. Well, add Davies to the list.
"I feel like it's a good place to live," Davies said. "I want to get to really know the city, so I felt like it's a good place to start."
He's specifically trying to rent in Georgetown, which he called an "unbelievable neighborhood" that reminds him of his prep school in New England. So if you know of any leads....I don't think he's looking for a group house situation, necessarily.
3) He hates cheese. I mean, this is a guy who played professionally in Sochaux, in France but near the Swiss and German border, in the land of washed-rind cheese and Comte and other things that make you cry with happiness. Surely he must love cheese, right?
"I hate cheese," he insisted. "I do, I hate cheese. Like, Raclette, you know that? They had that in my area. And, nuh-uh. I just don't like it....The smell is the worst. That's the worst. Like puke or..."
Well, you get the idea. I almost ended the interview here and stormed off in a huff, but I hadn't yet asked about....
4) The Dougie. I mean, if he's going to do the Stanky Leg, it seems like he could also do the Dougie, right?
"I could do that, but I think it's already been done," Davies said. "I already have a new thing planned that's on my mind. I can't give the hint. I like to do a surprise."
5) He loves the bear hug. As has often been noted, Davies was an accomplished high school wrestler, one of the best in the country at his weight. He considered doing both wrestling and soccer in college, before choosing Boston College, which didn't have a wrestling program. And as he told Sports Illustrated, his favorite move was indeed the bear hug.
"You wrap around the ribs and squeeze," he said fondly. "Puts a lot of pressure, and basically makes you crumble....I love the intensity [of wrestling]. You're one-on-one vs. a guy and you're gonna show him up. I love that."
This naturally led to a discussion of who would win a D.C. United battle royale, which naturally led someone to point out that Olsen is fairly scrappy.
"He'd be the first one I'd go after then," Davies said. "Get him out of the way."
6) Will he be a fan favorite? Olsen said several times that this city will embrace Davies, and that this is already happening. I asked the coach why he thought that.
"I don't know," Olsen said. "Maybe it's he same reason I like the kid. He's a good kid. He's a friendly kid. He's a respectful kid. He works his tail off. He's coachable. He has a certain way about him. If you're around him, you like him. He's a likable kid. And I think people see that. "
Then Olsen paused and smiled.
"Putting all that aside, he's fast, you know what I mean?" he said. "So we can talk about that stuff all night, but I like the speed, too."
(And if you care about the soccer stuff, Davies knows how to talk pretty.
"It's not just to get back to what I was. The goal still is to be better than I was before," he said. "As a striker, my job is to score goals....I'm gonna take it upon myself when I do get the chance to play to do the best I can, to score as much as I can, because that's my job.")
7) He wants to bring D.C. United back. At the end of his press conference, Davies said he wants to "put D.C. back into their winning ways of the past, that I remember [about D.C. United when I first started watching MLS soccer."
So I figured I needed to ask if he remembered watching a youthful Ben Olsen.
"I remember him, but I remember mostly Etcheverry, Diaz Arce, Moreno, those guys," Davies said. "It's actually pretty special. I've always wanted to raise that trophy and have the confetti fall on you. It'd be pretty special to do that here."
8) He had Honduran nightmares. This actually isn't funny, at all. There were dozens of questions about Davies's car accident in the D.C. area, and he explained that he remembers virtually nothing of that night, which might have helped him recover. In fact, he said when he woke up in the hospital, he had no idea where he was.
"The only thing I remember is getting in the car, putting on my seat belt and waking up in the hospital," he told reporters. "Waking up in the hospital and thinking I'm in a hostel in Honduras was definitely not too exciting. I didn't know how I got there. I thought I was in Honduras. The only thing I could do was panic. I started taking the staples out of my stomach, actually, until the nurse ran over and stopped me."
9) But he doesn't want to forget. Davies talked several times about sort of incorporating the accident into his life story. He also has kept his hair extremely short and said he always will, so that the massive, looping scar is clearly visible at a great distance.
"It's like a smiley face, with one eye," he said, describing the red, hook-shaped marks. "It's a reminder. I'm proud of what I had to go through to get back. It shows a reminder of humility and appreciation, to not take anything for granted."
| February 16, 2011; 4:37 PM ET
Categories: D.C. United
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