>Tuesday Lunch Special: Charlie Davies to DC United

Posted: February 1, 2011 in mls
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream
With the official statement that Sochaux has agreed to loan Charlie Davies to DC United for the 2011 MLS season pending a full medical evaluation, United fans everywhere can start dreaming of the playoffs once again. At first glance, it looks like Charlie is headed to a bad situation in DC, who were the league’s worst team last year with just six wins compared to 20 losses. However, upon taking a closer look, DC is one of the most promising sides for the upcoming season; they have loads of potential. I know Bill Parcells once said, “The definition of potential is that you haven’t done sh-t yet,” but this squad has the chance to “do sh-t.”
DC may have backline and goalkeeper issues (though I have quite confidence in the youngster Bill Hamid), but their midfield, who will be setting up Davies, may be the best in the league. Assuming Davies makes the team (more on that later) and DC plays a 4-4-2, a potential front six could look like this:

Charlie Davies     Chris Pontius
Santino Quaranta     Dax McCarty     Clyde Simms     Andy Najar

Obviously there is depth here too with Joseph Ngwenya and Josh Wolff (both decent MLS forwards) able to play either forward role and Ngwenya able to play out wide. Branko Bošković can play in the center or wide left and Perry Kitchen can play in the center as well. Ben Olsen clearly will have his hands full with options for a 4-4-2. Now, with DC’s plethora of good midfielders, DC could opt to play a 4-5-1 with Davies as the lone striker, something that would look more like this.

Charlie Davies
Branko Bošković
Santino Quaranta                         Andy Najar
Dax McCarty     Clyde Simms

Once again, there are more options here with Chris Pontius being able to slide into any of these attacking positions. The point of all this is that DC will have ample options to provide service to Davies, so he shouldn’t be without chances to score.
Assuming Davies makes the team, which should be somewhat of a formality as he is apparently near full fitness (90% fit Davies > 100% fit Josh Wolff/Joseph Ngwenya), Davies should be the clear starter. I can see Davies season going one of three ways:
Scenario One: Eddie Johnson (2006): Eddie Johnson struggled to come back from a plantar fasciitis injury that cost him much of his 2005 season. Just traded to a new team (Kansas City), Johnson scored in his first game and then scored just one goal in the next 18 games. Johnson really struggled to become the impact player he was just two years previously in which he tied for the league lead in scoring. Johnson was a bitter disappointment for both club and country this season.
Scenario Two: Alecko Eskandarian (2004): Eskandarian, coming off a disappointing rookie season with a terrible DC United team, was a revelation, scoring 10 goals on mostly half chances. Eskandarian was clearly a limited player, but he scored important goals (including four goals in the playoffs) in leading DC to their fourth championship. It should be noted that this season he had Jaime Moreno, Ben Olsen, Earnie Stewart, and Brian Carroll to set him up for goals. Eskandarian could disappear for long stretches of both games and parts of the season, but he would always produce something spectacular when you needed it.
Scenario Three: Eddie Johnson (2007): Johnson, coming of his disappointing 2006 season, scored 15 goals in 24 games. He was an unstoppable force the whole season, scoring impressive goals in bunches. His inclusion in Gold Cup squad that year likely cost him a chance at the Golden Boot and Best XI. Johnson was so unstoppable that he convinced Fulham FC of the EPL to pay a decent sized transfer fee for him at the end of the season. Johnson failed to impress in the EPL, but in this one season, he was absolutely unstoppable for a Kansas City team that had mostly mediocre players.
I would say that scenario three is probably the least likely out of the three. Davies will likely take some time to be acclimated to the speed of play of the game, but once he hits his stride, he could be amazing. If I had to guess, I would say that Davies would likely become a 2004 Alecko Eskandarian type player before returning to Sochaux next January. Completely prematurely, without even knowing if he will make the team, I am going to set the over/under for Davies’ goals at 10.5, and I expect him to hit the over. I believe he will be able to play a full season (I don’t think Bob Bradley will call him up until he has had a significant amount of playing time under his belt) and be a starter for one of the surprise teams in MLS. The fact that DC are taking a chance on Davies (besides the obvious attendance boost), shows that they think they are capable of winning now, something I also think if Davies can make a positive impact.
Davies has clearly landed in a good situation. As long as he doesn’t play like 2006 Eddie Johnson, his season will probably be determined a success. Look for Davies to lead a resurgent DC team into the playoffs late this year in what will be one of the stories of the year in world soccer.


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