Charlie Davies: “I Don’t Think I Worked This Hard To Come Up Short”

It’s 5:30AM PST and I’m about  to get on the phone with Charlie Davies.

I’m tired.

Chuck D: Back in (near) full effect

Charlie gets on the phone.

A cheery “Bon Jour!” follows.

“Bon Jour, Charlie, how are you?”

“I’m good, man; I’m good.”

He should be the tired one.

While the rest of Charlie answers come through–dare I say–fatigued from repetition, there are morsels of dialogue that suggest the spirit of Davies–you know the one that proclaimed back on October 7th 2009 the United States fit to hoist the World Cup–has not dulled an iota since that date. In fact, if you read a little further, you’ll find that proclamation barely recalibrated.

Statements like, “We’ve got a chip on our shoulder from the Confederation Cup when we lost to Brazil, to watch them dance around on the field after they beat us. We still have some unfinished business.”

and

“We’ve got a good team (FC Sochaux), capable of playing in Europe. It was unfortunate this season. I think we underachieved. But next year, we’re going to take a good stab at getting a place to compete in Europe.”

Same Charlie spirit. More pensive but every bit as determined.

Now, the rest of the conversation with the US striker whose body and World Cup candidacy appeared to rudely fall apart one fateful night last October.

TSG: You must be just inundated with media requests and lots of work, how many more interviews do you have today?

Charlie Davies: A few I think.

TSG: I’ll keep our time short. (Sorry Charlie, completely lied on this one).

CD: Appreciate it.

TSG: Let me get this one out of the way quickly here. There have been a lot of reports, erroneous reports it would appear, conjecture, about your “readyness” this week. Care to make a statement on that?

CD: I’m doing everything I possibly can to make sure I try to get into a match before the end of this year. It’s been stated that I had no chance.

Of course my president thought a month ago, my president thought I wouldn’t be able to get back on the field.

I’ve come a long way and I still have a little ways to go, but I think I’ll be ready to play in a match.

I still have a little ways to go, but I expect to play.

Getting ready for May 15th

TSG: So the May 15th game at home, you expect to be passed fit for that final game?

CD: I do expect to.  I’m really keen on getting into that last match.

TSG: Do you expect to make the World Cup 30-man roster next week? (This interview was conducted on May 6th.)

CD: I hope to.

I’m just hoping I just get a chance to get into the camp, continue to progress and hopefully step into camp feeling great and working hard. And then of course it’s about getting into that final 23.

It’s been my goal since getting out of the hospital bed and into a wheelchair, since getting on crutches. Training.

All this pain. I don’t think I worked this hard to come up short.

I’ll make sure if I get called up, I’ll be ready.

TSG: Are you still in pain at all?

CD: I’ve been extremely lucky not to have any setbacks. I haven’t experienced pain for two or three months now. When I’m working out I feel nothing. I feel good; I feel great.

That’s been a huge help because in the beginning I felt tendonitis and had some aches and pains. But in the past two months I haven’t felt any pain and that’s been a huge success for me because I’ve been able to do more.

TSG: I’m going to step back now and we’ll try to run through some things in chronological.

I’ve been wanting to ask you this question for awhile. Since before your injury.

(The Counterattack Heard Round The World)

You and Landon combined for what TSG calls “The Counterattack Heard Round the World.” You became only the 4th US guy to score in the Azteca…that goal on a pretty slip pass from Landon. Would you say you guys have special chemistry on the field, you and Donovan?

CD: Yeah, of course, I would say. Landon is a player that’s had so much experience.

I think on the field we get a good feel for each because my speed can open up so much space for him in the midfield and vice versa. We have a good understanding between us for where we need to be, where we want to be and where the ball needs to be.

We’ve definitely had a good connection with that, but we’re looking to build off it as well.

TSG: Getting to your fateful evening, I know you answered this question so I apologize, but….it’s Washington D.C. on a Monday night. It’s not exactly South Beach, Miami on a Saturday. What the heck were you doing out? What was your impetus?

CD: I was just really excited we qualified and I knew I wasn’t playing in the game on Wednesday.

I got a little overwhelmed and too excited. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

I paid dearly.

It’s something you regret. You learn from it. You grow from it.

I’ll be better for it.

TSG: Thanks for answering that one again Charlie. After your injury, fans as you know got together and, gosh, a million #9s came out against Costa Rica. I’ve been a USMNT fan for a long time. I can’t remember an event like that, nor can I remember a player having such a galvanizing effect on the fanbase.

Do you recognize the impact you have on the fans?

(Courtesy, Matt Mathai)

CD: Yeah, I do.

Seeing all the number 9s was just amazing and seeing it  in MLS games as well because I never played in MLS. That was something that was really special to me as well seeing the support from the US fans.

All the letters, all the gifts. It means a lot to me. It shows me how much people care.

It’s pushed be further. When I was going through the pain, it pushed me further and gave me the motivation to get things done.

Hopefully, I can inspire people when things don’t go your way, things happen you weren’t expecting that you can still grow from it, bounce back from it and become a better person, a stronger person.

Stu Holden: A quiet moment during the anthem (RFK, October 14th, 2009)

TSG: You’ve said before you need to get back and show your teammates. What do you need to do to make things right with your teammates?

CD: Just get back on the field and doing the things I used to do. Once I get into the swing of things and I’m back, then my next goal is I want to be better.

I could see what it could become in South Africa. What the US could become if we were always on the same page and play the great soccer that the US is capable of playing. For me it’s just getting back on the field celebrating goals together like we used to.

TSG: During your recovery, were there any simple things you did when you got down?

CD: Sleep? (Laughs)

I was doing double, triple sessions everyday. My girlfriend was helpful with the mental aspect.

Oguchi Onyewu had a huge part as well. We were together for the first couple months and just

In a true "twist" of fate, Onyewu's injury set him up to help out Davies

talking to both of them.

They helped me get through it.

Sometimes I would feel like I’m not making enough progress and I was like “I’m not where I need to be.”

I was like, “If I want to be in the World Cup I need to be further.”

If I felt frustrated, they pointed out the small things I was doing better than before. That was very helpful.

TSG: Do you kind of worry at all that your story overshadows what the team is trying to accomplish this year?

CD: No, not all. The guys are a great, great, great group of teammates.

They’ve talked with me throughout the whole process. They’ve helped me since day one. Calling me, sending txt messages. Making sure I’m alright and making sure I’m where I need to be on the road to recovery.

If I’m able to get back, I feel like it would be more of a celebration for everyone because they all helped me get back.

Confederation's Cup Final: Howard....stellar in play, anguish in defeat

At the same time we want to achieve more than we did at the Confederation’s Cup. We have something to prove. It’s almost like a chip on our shoulders after that finals loss that was so painful to Brazil.

Watching Brazil dance around right after they beat us right on the field. I still think we all have that feeling. And we know what we’re capable of doing and we can still be in a World Cup final.

TSG: We’ve heard from Bob Bradley on where he thinks you need to be in terms of conditioning, fitness to get into camp. Have they given you any hard milestones at all–your mile time, some agility drills, strength and conditioning tests, 10 minutes of stanky leg–that you need to accomplish for them to say, “Charlie, you know what, he’s ready.”

The only drill that matters...

CD: (Laughs) Well, I think for them, you know, from where I was it was always just “You know, Charlie, just keep working hard. Your mentality’s great. Your attitude has been great.”

They were obviously thinking, you known, there were so many things that happened to me, to point out, that you can’t just say run around fast and you’re good.

It was always just keep working hard. I’ve been able to stay in contact with Pierre Berrieu the strength coach for us.

And the trainers Jim Hashimoto who helped me from the beginning as well as  Ivan Pierra, the trainer for the US team.

I’ve been able to work through them and they’ve definitely helped me with what I need to do, what I need to be good at and they’ve been a tremendous help. what I need to do.

TSG: Do they–the training staff–stay in constant contact with you?

CD: I’ve stayed in constant contact with them. Pierre calls my club every week. I’ve spoken with Ivan every week. I speak with Hash (Jim Hashimoto) almost every other day or two, just making sure of if I’m doing everything right If I can do some more stuff.

The communication’s been great between all of us.

TSG: Okay, let’s give you a break on the recovery talk here. We interviewed Ale Bedoya the other day and had a little fun with some questions about some of your teammates. Here are yours. Just name the first player that comes to mind.

TSG: Who’s the best crosser of the ball?

CD: Oh wow, we have so many.

TSG: Take a shot. We all know you are well opinionated.

CD: I would say Stuart Holden.

TSG: Most underrated player?

CD: Whew…I would say Brad Guzan.

TSG: Best shooter?

CD: Clint Dempsey.

Captain America: Charlie's most respected...

TSG: Most respected?

CD: Our captain Carlos Bocanegra.

(TSG Note: That answer came very quickly.)

TSG: Funniest? Almost done.

CD: This is a tough one. I would go with. Well, I would have to go with Stuart again.

TSG: Smartest?

CD: (Laughing) Well that would have to be the modern day man, Jonathan Spector.

TSG: Just a few more questions. Any fond memories of the US World Cup growing up? Remember any players.

CD: 1994 was my first World Cup so that was a huge thing. I went to Bolivia versus South Korea at Foxboro Stadium.

It was two teams I may not have been interested in , but that atmosphere was great.

The scored ended zero-zero so I didn’t get to see any goal celebrations. That was a big moment though because I was like, “I love this sport.”

As for players, it had to be in 1998, Ronaldo and in 2002 Ronaldo again.

(TSG’s choose Ronaldo as a hypothetical mentor for Davies in a column back in February.)

And 2002 was definitely great for me, because you could see the US made so much  progress all the way through the quarterfinals and we barely lost to the World Cup finalists.

After that I was like I need to be a part of this. I need to play with the national team.

(Jozy’s rendition of Le Stanky Leg, September 2009, Rio Tinto)

TSG: Okay, we’ve gotten some rumblings on The Shin Guardian that the stanky leg is so 1999. Is that still going to be your signature move?

Are you going to with something new when you score? There are like 30,000 YouTube clips out there or something with kids doing the “Charlie Davies stanky leg celebration.” What do they need to get ready for?

CD: I don’t even know. First I have to get on the field then I have to score. Then we can talk goal celebrations.

The first goal celebration will be pretty intense as far as me just being crazy. I have no idea what I’ll do. I’ll just feel completely elated and overjoyed.

I don’t even know what will happen.

I’m just happy when I score goals in training; I don’t even know what to do.

I want to run around for like ten minutes right now if I score a goal in training.

TSG: What are your goals for club ball next year with FC Sochaux?

CD: Be one of the top goal scorers and help us to a top 10, top 8 finish.

I want to be a good leader up top and accomplish good things with the team.

We’ve got a good team, capable of playing in Europe. It was unfortunate this season. I think we underachieved. But next year, we’re going to take a good stab at getting a place to compete in Europe.

TSG: Charlie, thanks for the time you’ve spent. From the entire TSG community, and from the fan in me, your efforts to make the World Cup represent all that is good about sport. The entire community wishes you the best over the coming weeks.

Anything that we should have asked you that we weren’t smart enough to?

CD: No I think you got everything.

Just keep believing.

Keep believing. There are things that come out that may not have truth and try to shake the confidence.

Keep believing….and it’s not over until the fat lady sings.

Celebration

(Most photos for this story provided by Matt Mathai)

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47 responses to this post.

  1. This is great stuff, I don’t really have words for it

    Reply

  2. stellar. as always. TSG is my favorite site on the web, and well on it’s way to being the best american soccer site in the world. Charlie baby, keep grinding man. so much love.

    Reply

  3. Fantastic stuff, great mix of the hard questions (with some great answers) as well as some more off the beaten path ones. I’ll definitely be reading this again tomorrow, great job.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Len on 2010/05/10 at 12:41 AM

    Agreed, this is a great interview. Charlie really couldn’t just regurgitate practiced answers for most of the questions posed. This is a refreshingly novel piece. Well done.

    Reply

  5. Posted by mhikaric on 2010/05/10 at 1:20 AM

    brilliant interview, tsg

    Reply

  6. Appreciate his candor. Great work TSG.

    Reply

  7. Posted by KMac on 2010/05/10 at 4:32 AM

    Thanks Matthew. Amazing Interview.

    AND, most importantly, thanks Chuck D for giving the interview.

    I would love to think you are quoting my “not over til Sweatpants sings”…but I don’t want to get you in trouble with Coach B! WE BELIEVE. Bless.
    KMac

    Reply

  8. Thanks Matt. Another gem.

    This one sets TSG apart. You guys are world-class.

    Go Chuck, Go!

    Cheers…

    Reply

  9. Posted by Joe on 2010/05/10 at 6:12 AM

    High Class interview

    I just have to say it…

    YOU CAN DO IT CHARLIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply

  10. Posted by Shana on 2010/05/10 at 6:22 AM

    Great interview, and it’s always good to see how positive and motivated Charlie is.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Steve Marusich on 2010/05/10 at 6:27 AM

    Brought tears to my eyes. This team, to me, represents all that is positive and great about America and American sport.

    Don’t quit Charlie.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Matthew on 2010/05/10 at 6:45 AM

    Very refreshing interview. Great mix of tough and light-hearted questions. I get so tired of poor analysis and bland insight through the major media outlets like ESPN. You asked and he answered the questions that we fans want to hear. Congratulations on an outstanding piece.

    Reply

  13. Excellent interview. Great questions and thoughtful responses.

    His journey back has been inspirational. I expect him to be one of the 30 called into camp and I think he has a better than 50-50 chance to make the 23.

    Reply

  14. Posted by Colin on 2010/05/10 at 6:54 AM

    Its amazing how much positive attitude can come from a single person.

    Reply

  15. Posted by KMac on 2010/05/10 at 7:04 AM

    Here is another interview from Charlie, for those of you like me, who can not get enough info.

    http://mls.neulion.com/mlsvp/console.jsp?catid=113&id=4892

    Reply

  16. Excellent interview! The wait was totally worth it….

    Reply

  17. Posted by Jennifer on 2010/05/10 at 8:06 AM

    Great interview. Hoping Charlie makes the final 23 even if he doesn’t go a full 90. It’ll be great inspiration for the team.

    Reply

  18. Posted by Bob on 2010/05/10 at 8:25 AM

    Awesome! Thank you, Matthew. I really liked the questions about his thoughts on USMNT players. We really need more of that, imo, as we head toward the WC as it gives us a better insight into the players and team chemistry, etc.

    Reply

  19. Posted by Jennifer on 2010/05/10 at 9:41 AM

    Totally unrelated but has anybody seen the new ESPN the Magazine cover? Saw this on the USA World Cup Team Blog

    Title: Meet America’s Best Hope At The World Cup…

    Player on the Cover: Giuseppe Rossi

    Reply

    • yeah, pretty gross. espn does a great job of alienating us supporters. a guy who might not even make the italy world cup squad on the cover versus tim howard, dempsey going for european and national glory or breakout guys like bedoya and buddle is just a joke.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/10 at 1:44 PM

        The editor of ESPN has lost the plot. With less than 5 weeks to go, this was a fantastic opportunity to go after the casual fan, but they go for a player born and raised in the US but chooses to represent another country. Absolutely disgusting IMO. But I guess that is symptomatic of many casual soccer fans in the US…

        Reply

    • Posted by Tom M on 2010/05/10 at 1:22 PM

      Yeah the cover looks pretty stupid considering Rossi wasn’t even named on the preliminary roster. Pretty lame to ignore the stories of USMNT players.

      Reply

    • Italy has De Rossi and DIE Rossi!!!

      Reply

      • hahaha quoting this for the ConstantlyOff twitter, epic.

        Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/10 at 2:08 PM

        I agree that there are so many unexplored USMNT storylines for the US. Maybe ESPN was trying to cause some conflict and get publicity (like it is doing right here).

        I’m somewhat amazed as well that ESPN picked a cover of Howard, Donovan (sound choices) with Altidore instead of Dempsey a few weeks back.

        On Rossi, I don’t begrudge him one bit because if I did you probably need to be against Jermaine Jones and maybe even JFT — though I imagine the above was tongue in cheek.

        Reply

        • Posted by Jennifer on 2010/05/10 at 4:07 PM

          I don’t have a problem with Rossi playing for Italy. I don’t really have a problem with him on the cover. It’s more the title. Seems like ESPN is saying the only way for an American to do well, or go the farthest, at the WC is to play for another country.

          Reply

  20. Posted by Shane_K83 on 2010/05/10 at 9:49 AM

    Great Interview..We Believe Chuck D!! Bless!

    Reply

  21. Posted by 723FootballFilms on 2010/05/10 at 10:58 AM

    Great job, Matt. Fantastic stuff.

    Reply

  22. Posted by Robin on 2010/05/10 at 11:05 AM

    FANTASTIC interview! Love you Charlie!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!

    Reply

  23. Posted by Alex on 2010/05/10 at 11:34 AM

    thanks tsg

    Reply

  24. Posted by kaya on 2010/05/10 at 11:35 AM

    I’m really keeping my fingers crossed for you, Charlie. You do make us believe.

    Reply

  25. Posted by pckilgore on 2010/05/10 at 12:46 PM

    Kudos on the interview, well done.

    Reply

  26. Posted by Tom M on 2010/05/10 at 1:17 PM

    Great stuff Matthew! Fantastic read!

    Reply

  27. Posted by Colin on 2010/05/10 at 1:19 PM

    Cant wait to see his name on the 30 man roster this week

    Reply

  28. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/05/10 at 2:10 PM

    I’ll add one quote here in the comments for the TSG community.

    Another comment from Davies in regards to the his story overshadowing the team.

    “I really don’t think that the team is going to be happy in South Africa just because I may make it down there with them. They’re going to be completely focused on the job at hand.”

    Reply

  29. [...] Charlie Davies (are you really surprised?) in the form of an excellent interview from The Shin Guardian.  His is obviously the name that everyone will be watching for during tomorrow’s press [...]

    Reply

  30. Posted by brian on 2010/05/10 at 3:20 PM

    Great interview tsg! The celebration has to be the stanky leg.

    33 days until Rustenburg!

    Reply

  31. Posted by Chris R on 2010/05/10 at 3:26 PM

    great job on that interview. well done TSG!

    Reply

  32. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/10 at 6:54 PM

    I love it!

    I just realized how damn fast that Counterattack was(note the capitalization). That’s some serious speed we;re missing out there.

    Reply

  33. Posted by Tom on 2010/05/10 at 8:58 PM

    Just have to pile on: great interview with a bright light on the US soccer scene. Regardless of how the 2010 cycle goes for Charlie, his conduct through this ordeal has given him a place in the heart of US fans the world over.

    Reply

  34. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/05/10 at 9:40 PM

    Word on the street is that Jozy’s latest tweet(and the timing of it) insinuates Charlie won’t make the 30.

    “:(”

    I’m not getting all worked up over that though. I know he’ll be in

    Reply

    • i saw this yesterday and immediately got worried. I was really hoping I was just being dumb, but this sucks a lot.

      Reply

  35. Posted by Max G on 2010/05/10 at 11:00 PM

    Wonderful interview, this site just keeps getting better and better.

    Reply

  36. Posted by Jankarlo on 2010/05/11 at 8:37 AM

    This was brilliant! Thanks Charlie, hope to see you in South Africa! We believe.

    Reply

  37. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/11 at 11:17 AM

    Sochaux did not give Davies full medical clearance, therefore not given full release to join the camp. Just like I alluded to on 4th May’s “Davies Fitness Claims Denied” piece.

    Reply

  38. [...] The Shin Guardian interview from Sunday Chuck D: Back in (near) full effect [...]

    Reply

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