Sunday, March 20, 2011

A "Special Moment" For Charlie Davies and American Soccer

Photo Credit: Images.
An American soccer nation watched with great anticipation Saturday night at DC United opened their 2011 Major League Soccer campaign against the Columbus Crew; questions abound and focused on one player: Mr. Charlie Davies.

Would he see the field? Would he play a meaningful role? Would we see flashes of 2009? Would he score? Would he stanky legg?

Charlie Davies played. Charlie Davies scored. Charlie Davies stanky legg'ed.

An American soccer nation exhaled. For 522 days we waited in earnest. We first held number nine signs in DC and all other corners of the United States. We wrote letters e-mails, and tweeted our support throughout his recovery. We followed news of his miraculous rehabilitation and recovery; wondering if he would have a shot at this past summer's World Cup.

He would not. The American soccer nation's reaction was mixed. Pundits pontificated, Monday morning centerbacks (?) with their blogs, and office water cooler discussions ensued.

A lull in the "Charlie Davies Watch" rolled over the American soccer nation. The USMNT made a decent run in South Africa, but afterwards, after not a single U.S. forward found the back of the net, it resumed. We waited to see if he would feature for his club, FC Sochaux, post-World Cup, but he would not.

Despair washed over an American soccer nation. Was hope lost? Would this bright, young star ever see first-team soccer again?

Major League Soccer and DC United would answer these questions. He would trial. He would train. He would sign.

When Davies' United teammates parted for him to walk to the penalty kick spot Saturday night an American soccer nation held its collective breath. A year and a half we watched, waiting, worried. The buzz that carried through the crowd when Davies entered in the 56th minute now spilled over into mass euphoria when he buried his spot kick in the 63rd. When he bagged his second on the night and celebrated with the stanky legg you could've solved the nation's energy crisis if someone could've figured out a way to capture the crowd's electricity.

Five hundred and twenty-two days ago his comeback journey began. The journey is not over. There's an entire MLS season to still be played, but as one watched Davies' tear-filled post-game interview an American soccer nation knew that this moment, that appearance, those goals were the end of another chapter in this Hollywood comeback tale. The next chapter, of course, is his return to National Team duty.

Major League Soccer gets a lot of stick for how they run and market their league, but the return of Charlie Davies to first-team, professional soccer in their league is one thing they can really hang their hat on. Forget David Beckham and forget weird playoff structures and remember that MLS (and DC United) played a role in bringing Davies back from the brink.

For an American soccer nation we were able witness to a special night. Davies called it a "special moment" and for his supporters and well-wishers we were able to join him in that moment.

An American soccer nation will be here waiting for his next special moment. Just like we have all along.

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1 comment:

"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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