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September 16, 2011 at 1:01 AM

Charlie Davies talks about Sounders FC fans, U.S. national team prospects, Mike Fucito and more

charlie davies.jpgPhoto credit: AP

I got a chance to catch up with D.C. United forward Charlie Davies earlier this week. The 25-year-old wanted to express his gratitude to Sounders FC fans for the tribute a couple years ago (pictured above) and has been anticipating a return to Seattle for a long time.

Here’s the story we ran in today’s newspaper, but I wanted to include some extra material on the blog. The Sounders host D.C. United in a 6 p.m. league game Saturday at CenturyLink Field.

* * *

(You have fans all over the country, probably the world, that I’m sure gave you support after the accident. Why have fans from Seattle stood out so much to you?) “Seattle is pretty important to me. I still have a lot of flags and scarves from Seattle. You’d almost think I played for the Seattle Sounders because of all the memorabilia I have. It meant so much to me just to see the support and the pictures. Just the environment and the atmosphere that the Sounders’ fans provided and the support they showed, it really moved me. To this day, it still touches me pretty deep when I think about the way they supported me and put those No. 9s up. It spoke volumes.”

(I know you’re a creative guy when it comes to goal celebrations. Does that mean you’ll keep those ideas in the pocket Saturday if you score?) “Yeah. Most likely, I’d just head back to our side. It’s just one of those things where I’m so grateful. I’d love to salute them and give them a round of applause for everything and the support they’ve shown, and continue to show actually. I still get tweets from a lot of Sounders’ fans saying they’re rooting for me and they’re all extremely proud. There’s only two days of the year they’ll root against me and that’s when I’m playing Seattle.”

(This has all been in the context of the accident. I’ve never seen you shy away or hide from talking about it. Why has that been how you’ve handled things?) “For me, talking about the accident never gets old or tired because it’s a story that can help motivate a lot of people. It shows that you can never stop believing in yourself. With prayer and hard work and determination, you can still achieve your goals even when you have such a huge setback like I had. Whenever there’s a story or someone wants to talk about it, I’m glad to because the way that it’s touched people I think is really special. We played in Houston and a fan came up to me, 10 years old, with his mother and it was tough for her just to get the words out of her mouth. Eventually she said, ‘This is my son. You’re his biggest inspiration. You’re the reason he can get up out of his bed and look forward to the day.’ He had fractured his leg, it was basically in a metal contraption, and he also had open-heart surgery. He had this big metal piece in his chest. She showed me the x-rays on her phone and that’s when I was like, ‘Wow.’ I was so moved it was hard to focus on the game we were going to play in 30 minutes. Stories like that. If I can help a kid get out of bed and stay motivated, (I want him or her) to know if you keep at it and work day by day, things will get better. I’m hoping that I can continue to show people that if you don’t give up and you keep the faith, good things will happen.”

(It was a popular question when you first came back, but how are you feeling now compared to where you were earlier in the season?) “It’s a lot different in the sense that now my body has adjusted. I feel fit. I feel 100-percent physically and 100-percent mentally now, which is a big difference I think. Just coming back from a year and a half, expectations were pretty low. I didn’t know exactly how far I’d be along and there were just a lot of questions in my head as far as: What am I expecting to get out of the season? What is the team expecting me to do for them? What are my teammates’ expectations for me? … There were a lot of questions and now I’m more than a half a season in and I’m feeling great. I honestly feel back to my old self, just going out there working hard and playing. Confidence is always a huge factor and I think I got my confidence back. I just have got to continue to keep building off each of performance. (Earlier in the season), playing 90 minutes would be extremely difficult. After a game of playing 90 minutes at the beginning of the season it would take be a good four to five days to recover. It was pretty tough to recover after games, just muscle soreness and fatigue. I would say now it’s like the old me. I perform and then I take a day to recover and I’m good. It’s been a long road (of recovery) and it’s finally feeling like it’s coming to an end.”

(If I remember correctly, you talked to Bob Bradley about coming back to MLS. Now that there’s a new coach in charge of the U.S. men’s national team, have you been in contact with Jurgen Klinsmann and how often you do think about your own national team prospects?) “I’ll never not think about national team prospects. I haven’t been contacted by Jurgen, but the national team is something that I’m working towards every single day. That’s where I feel I need to be and have to be. I want to help the team win games. I feel like the best way to do that is by scoring goals and the team needs a goal scorer. I’m hoping that Jurgen can bring me in to take a look and know that I’m a dedicated, committed guy that wants to win and wants to complete. It’s one of those things where if I get my chance, I’ll be ready. I’ll continue to work hard and not really think about it and hope that it happens sooner rather than later.”

(How do you handle the impact of a coaching change?) “That’s professional life. You’re always getting new coaches — coaches come in, coaches leave — it’s just about continuing to perform. I think that if I can continue to perform well then hopefully I’ll get a chance to build a relationship with Jurgen and have him get an understanding of the person I am.”

(Back in 2007, when you were about to make the move to Europe, why was that the right move for you instead of MLS? And how much have you seen the league change and improve since then?) “In 2007, when I was first coming out, for me it was about going to Europe. That was my dream. I had to go out and try it because that’s always been something I’ve dreamed of doing. I’m glad I did. I learned a lot and I think I matured pretty quickly being over there. Now coming back here I think it’s absolutely amazing. The league has grown so much. I’m really happy to come back here and that the league gave me a chance to come back and get better, to get back to my previous form. D.C. United took chance on me. They said, ‘We believe in this guy. We know it’ll take a little bit to get it going, but we’ll take that chance.’ I’m so thankful for that. I think the league is very competitive and it’s only going to get better. It continues to grow and the stadiums are fantastic — Red Bull Arena, Livestrong (Sporting) Park in Kansas City. For me, it’s only going to become one of the top leagues in the world in the next five to 10 years.”

(Obviously you’re career got off to a little bit of a faster start than your longtime friend Mike Fucito, but have you been able to keep up with his progress here?) “Yes, of course. I’ve known Mike since I was 12. We played together for a long time and I’m so happy for him to make the strides that he has. He’s always had the talent and he’s always been able to successful at this level, he just has to believe in himself. For me, I think a lot has to do with confidence. I think now he’s feeling really confident and it’s showing when he’s playing. I’m extremely happy for him. I know when we played early in the season, he didn’t get on the field. I told him, ‘Don’t let this shake you up. Continue at it and work hard. If things don’t go your way, continue to stick with it and eventually things will happen.’ That’s what he’s done. He’s done extremely well and he’s scored some fantastic goals. I’m really looking forward to seeing him and finally getting a chance to play each other. It’ll be pretty special.”


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