Q&A: Charlie Davies
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
DC United forward Charlie Davies answers questions about Mike Fucito, MLS and comebacks.
On October 13, 2009, Charlie Davies’ life changed forever when a car accident left him with a lacerated bladder, a broken right tibia and femur, a fractured elbow, facial injuries and bleeding on the brain. It also cost him a chance to play in the 2010 World Cup and nearly cost him his life. He has since made a full recovery and is now playing for DC United in his first season of Major League Soccer. An old teammate of Sounders FC forward Mike Fucito at the youth club level and at the Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts, Davies talked about Fucito, coming to MLS and recovering from long-term injuries, offering advice to Seattle midfielder Steve Zakuani along the way.
Q: What was Mike Fucito like growing up?
DAVIES: He was feisty. He was one of my best friends growing up. We played club soccer together and I recruited him to my high school, which was pretty cool. Unfortunately, he went to Harvard - his family wouldn’t let him pass up that opportunity, so we didn’t get a chance to play in college. We probably would have been a pretty good tandem.
Q: What were you like as a tandem?
DAVIES: We demanded a lot from each other. We were always tough on each other and we got the best out of each other. We were pretty good on our high school team. We always knew where each other was. It was probably the best forward tandem that I’ve ever been a part of.
Q: What could it be like tomorrow if you end up on the field against each other?
DAVIES: It’d be pretty crazy, but it’d be a good feeling. We’ve both come a long way since we started playing together when we were 13 or 14 years old. It will be a pretty cool situation.
Q: What went into your decision to come back to the US and play in Major League Soccer?
DAVIES: It was basically finding the best place for me to get back the quickest. Coach Bradley with the National Team thought this would be the best situation for me and it was kind of a no-brainer. I’m able to get playing time consistently and to be back in America where I have so much support and the National Team can keep an eye on me.
Q: What were your impressions of the league before you got here and how has the league reflected those impressions through the first few games?
DAVIES: I’ve really watched the league every season since I left Boston College. I almost came to the league, but I decided that Europe was always where I wanted to play and I had to try it out. In watching the league through MLSSoccer.com, week-to-week and game-to-game, and I’m really impressed with how far the league has come just in the last few years. I didn’t know what to expect coming into this season, but I was always able to play against MLS teams and I knew what to expect as far as the level and now I can see that the level is much higher, so I’m very happy and fortunate that that’s the case.
Q: I’m sure you talk with your US National teammates. Is there a feeling that more guys are thinking about coming back and playing here?
DAVIES: Oh, for sure. Quite a bit since I’ve come back have asked how it is and they’ve said that they miss the States and that they want to come back. The league is growing and a lot of guys are thinking of coming back now.
Q: Take me back to your first game in MLS. It was an emotional game. What was that like for you?
DAVIES: It’s something I had been waiting for since October 13, 2009. You can imagine the feeling that I had going into that day. The time was finally here. I’d been working so hard for that day. There was no nervousness, no anxiousness. I was just ready. It was here and I was ready for it. I had worked so hard to be ready for that moment. I was a little upset that I didn’t get the start, so I had that fire and I knew that when I came in I would be ready to make something happen. Fortunately, Chris (Pontius) got fouled in the box and there was a penalty. Dax (McCarty) came over and gave me the ball and said, “We believe in you. Put it in the back of the net.” That kind of sums it up. My teammates have confidence in me and want me to succeed. That’s another reason why I’m here. When I put the ball down, I had to put it in the back of the net. I scored and that was an amazing feeling - to finally score again and have that meaningful goal. Then the second one was even better because it came from the run of play and it was a play that I would normally make. It was the old Charlie, step for step. It was a good feeling and after that goal I felt like I was back and on the right path and I would get back to where I wanted to be.
Q: Was there ever a reluctance to play for DC because of what happened to you here?
DAVIES: Not at all. I needed to move and be in a good situation. Having Ben Olsen be the coach, a guy I played with and a guy I respect, made the situation even better for me.
Q: We have a guy who is about to go through a long recovery process in Steve Zakuani. What was the comeback and recovery like?
DAVIES: There’s not too many words to describe my situation. I was in a near-death situation and had to start back at zero. I had to work as hard as I possibly could every single day. I was pushing it to the limit because I had a World Cup in mind. I would do every thing I could to exert myself and after a while, that gets to you, mentally. But I had such a great support system and it’s very important that Steve surrounds himself with people that will be positive in his life and in his comeback. He’s going to have days when he doesn’t make the improvements that he hopes or thinks that he can that day and he needs those people to lean on that can tell him that it is part of the process and it’s not really a setback in the grand scheme of things. I sent Steve a tweet and told him to keep his head up and stay positive. I wish him the best in his recovery and he knows that if he has any questions or concerns he can give me a ring. It’s going to be tough on him, but he’s in good hands and he’ll be on the right path to get him back for the Sounders.
Q: What did it mean to you to see the Number 9s in the stands at DC and in Seattle?
DAVIES: It meant a lot. I still have the 9s signed from Seattle from the fans in my apartment. That gives you a boost in a way that people can never know. That support drives you every day. You can’t let your friends and family down and myself down, but I can’t let them down either. The Seattle game is one that I’m definitely looking forward to. Those fans are so passionate and they supported me. I scored in that stadium in the Gold Cup. I just want to give back to them a little bit of love. I know they don’t want to see me score against the Sounders, but just to be back there and thank everyone. I would love for the Seattle fans to know that I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. They did an incredible job with Steve’s tribute as well - it gave me goosebumps because it brought back memories. I would just say that it’s an incredible thing that they’re doing and they are appreciated with everything they do.