When Charlie Davies’ muscles are screaming and his lungs feel as if they’re about to explode, he pictures U.S. soccer team coaches watching, waiting to see what else the forward has in him.
He hears coach Bob Bradley telling him to keep pushing, keep chasing the dream of a miraculous comeback that he’s held onto since the car crash that nearly killed him seven months ago.
“I’ve had milestones where I’ve had huge accomplishments,” Davies said in a phone interview this week from France, where he has resumed full training with his club, Sochaux. “I really can’t be satisfied or happy until I reach my final goal, which is to get into a match before the season ends and then playing with the U.S.”
A preliminary, 30-man World Cup roster is due to FIFA by Tuesday, and Bradley will bring 26 to 28 players to a training camp that begins four days later in Princeton, N.J. The final 23-man roster is due June 1.
Though Bradley is happy with Davies’ progress, he sounded skeptical the 23-year-old could make this team.
Davies hasn’t played in a match since Oct. 10, and Sochaux has only three games left before the season ends May 15.
“The final steps are the hardest steps,” Bradley said last week. “We still need to see where that goes.”
A strong, speedy forward, Davies’ breakout play in World Cup qualifying and the Confederations Cup last year made him an integral part of the U.S. squad and earned him a promotion to Sochaux in France’s top division. He seemed a sure bet to make the World Cup roster.
Then, on Oct. 13, a car crash on the George Washington Parkway in Virginia left another passenger dead and Davies, also a passenger, with devastating injuries. His left elbow was broken and dislocated. His right femur, tibia and fibula were broken, as were his nose, forehead and eye socket. He had a ruptured bladder, and bleeding on the brain.
Doctors estimated recovery would be six months to a year, essentially ending Davies’ World Cup hopes.
He had other ideas.
“When I heard that, the first thing that went through my mind is, ‘Oh, no way. I’ll be back sooner,’” he said.
Players, MLS ratify deal
Major League Soccer and its players ratified a five-year labor agreement that allowed the season to start on time.
Eighty-four percent of players voted to approve, the MLS Players Union said Tuesday. Owners ratified the deal within the past week, league spokesman Dan Courtemanche said. The collective bargaining agreement was reached March 20.
Under the deal, all players 24 and over with three years of MLS service receive guaranteed contracts. The minimum salary for senior players increased from $34,000 to $40,000 this year and goes up to $42,000 next season, $44,000 in 2012, $46,500 in 2013 and $48,500 in 2014.
Players whose contracts have expired can go into a re-entry draft.
Houston Dynamo forward Brian Ching has resumed full training after straining his left hamstring in the team’s home opener on April 1. … DC United coach Curt Onalfo and Chivas USA midfielder Michael Lahoud have been suspended two games each by the MLS. Onalfo was disciplined for leaving his technical area and for improper behavior after he was ejected during a U.S. Open Cup play-in win over FC Dallas on April 28. Lahoud was penalized for a reckless tackle on Justin Mapp in Saturday’s 1-1 tie against the Chicago Fire. MLS decided the tackle was “egregious” and fined him $500.