Charlie Davies' recovery a huge boost for U.S.
For most of us the winter has been relatively kind. Environment Canada has proclaimed it the warmest, driest winter on record. It has been the longest, cruellest winter of Charlie Davies' life but there is a new spring in his step, both literally and metaphorically.
In a scene straight out of 'The Six Million Dollar Man', Davies, who was nearly killed last October, believes he will play at the World Cup in three months time.
Car accident claimed life of female passenger
Five months have now passed since the U.S. international striker was seriously injured in a car accident that took the life of a female passenger. A ruptured bladder, broken leg and thighbone, fractured elbow, and substantial facial injuries entailed hours of surgery. The rehabilitation was expected to take anything up to a year.
Davies' recovery has been close to miraculous. The 23-year-old forward has been back in Europe for nearly a month under the supervision of his club side Sochaux. He's been in good company, sharing time with fellow World Cup hopefuls Ashley Cole and Michael Essien at the renowned Capbreton clinic in South Western France.
Soon he will leave the seaside town and rejoin his teammates, some of whom contact him on a daily basis. They are eagerly awaiting his return and Davies is confident he will be back in action before the French league season concludes in mid-May.
Typical of his attitude, Davies does not just want to play. He wants to finish his first season in France the way he started it - by making an impact and scoring goals. If all goes well, he could be ready for his comeback by the end of April that would give him time to feature in Sochaux's final four games.
Davies doesn't need to prove his worth to U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley. His performances at last summer's Confederations Cup clearly demonstrated his ability to compete on the international stage. However, like any athlete returning after serious injury, Davies needs to convince himself everything works, just as it did before, in a competitive environment.
He is no less a player since the accident but the crash will have psychologically affected him. Davies remains a talented individual but he must rediscover the self-belief he once took for granted if he is to fulfill his potential for club and country.
When that first lunging tackle comes in, or that 50/50 header is there to be won, Davies must have the confidence to challenge for the ball in the absolute conviction he will be able to take the hit, pick himself up and get on with the game. Adrenalin will take care of the rest.
A boost to Team USA
Davies' remarkable recuperation will also give Team USA a major boost in the countdown to South Africa. Bradley's lengthy casualty list, which once threatened to become an epidemic, is gradually easing with a number of his star performers close to fitness.
Fellow striker Clint Dempsey has already made his Fulham comeback. After a two-month layoff following a serious knee injury, the American returned to action as a substitute against Juventus in the Europa League.
Central defender Oguchi Onyewu, who spent time with Davies while rehabbing from knee surgery, recently joined in some light training with the U.S. team. He is naturally keen to return to AC Milan in the near future. Midfielders Stuart Holden and Benny Feilhaber are also optimistic about their return dates.
No such problem for Bradley's brightest star. Landon Donovan has completed a highly successful loan spell with Everton and is due to return home for the start of the MLS season.
The strike threat by the players' union, however, may yet change his plans. If Bradley had his way, Donovan would be swathed in cotton wool and bubble wrap until June 12th.
About the Author
Nigel Reed brings his extensive experience, passion and knowledge of the game of soccer to his role as play-by-play announcer for Major League Soccer ON CBC.
Reed has more than 20 years experience covering soccer, most notably a five-year stint from 1999 to 2004 where he was a host and producer for the English Premier League for BBC. He also covered English Premier League giants Liverpool and Everton for BBC Radio and provided analysis for both BBC TV and the BBC website.
Reed, who will also call matches for CBC's FIFA broadcast package, covered weightlifting, taekwondo, soccer and equestrian for CBC's coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.