Charlie Davies and the World Cup
The news involving Charlies Davies seems to get better by the day. Just five-plus months since being severely injured in an auto accident near Washington, the U.S. national team forward began light jogging Monday with his French club, Sochaux. He will continue to work with a physiotherapist for two to four weeks, and if all goes well, participate in full sessions.
Davies' comeback, in life and soccer, has been nothing short of remarkable. And as his outlook continues to improve, his place in Bob Bradley's plans will, undoubtedly, become one of the most closely followed storylines in the build-up to the World Cup.
Davies will not be a sympathetic, token selection; if Bradley does not believe he can help the team, he won't be included on the 23-man roster. So Davies must not only.....
regain his fitness, but earn his way back into Sochaux's rotation and show that his speed, touch and finishing ability have not been lost. The club has 10 league matches remaining, with the finale May 15. Sochaux also remains in contention for the French Cup and will play in the quarterfinals Wednesday at Monaco.
At the rate he has been progressing, Davies seems likely to be included on the U.S. team's 30-man preliminary roster that must be submitted to FIFA by May 11. Bradley could certainly use him, for there is not exactly an abundance of swift, internationally seasoned forwards in the American system.
But unlike other Americans seeking to return from long-term injuries, this is uncharted territory. In his rehabilitation from a ruptured patella tendon suffered in October, veteran defender Oguchi Onyewu is following a routine used by players who have suffered similar ailments. Like Davies, he too is in need of competitive matches as soon as possible.
But because of Davies' unique circumstances and the variety and extent of his injuries (ranging from a fractured tibia and femur in his right leg to a lacerated bladder), no one really knows what to expect. Not the Sochaux coaching staff, not Bradley and the U.S. Soccer Federation, and probably not Davies himself. Being able to run is one thing; being able to play at a World Cup level is another.
Based on his rapid recovery from what was career-threatening trauma, he has given everyone reason to believe that he will be in the mix when Bradley begins trimming his player pool and making plans for the start of training camp on May 16. But until we see him on the field in Ligue 1 and playing at a world-class level, we won't know definitively whether this inspiring return will become a personal and professional triumph in time for the World Cup.
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