BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, July 13, 2012
This weekend when the Danish Superliga season opens, it will mark a new beginning for Charlie Davies who sees his move to newly promoted Randers as a fresh start in his career.
Davies, 26, signed with Randers last week after ending his contract by mutual consent with Sochaux. Davies had been with Sochaux since 2009 and was a rising star with the Ligue 1 squad but his infamous car accident on October, 13 2009 was a major setback.
Davies never fully reestablished himself with Sochaux in the two and a half years since the accident. In 2011 he was loaned to DC United and returned to France earlier this year. Toward the end of the 2011/12 season, Davies made two appearances for a total of 23 minutes.
By signing with Randers, he will join a club who just earned promotion into the Danish Superliga after one year in the second tier. Davies believes this will be the right place for him to earn significant minutes and regain his form.
"I'm really excited," Davies told YA. "It's what I needed in a fresh start. I want to get back to doing what I do best in scoring goals."
"It is the best Scandinavian league and it will give me an opportunity to play every week. Randers is a club that has a lot of ambition. Also, it will help me in getting back into the form I had before the accident and succeeding on European soil."
It's been a wild past two weeks for Davies who was married on June 29 and the following week terminated his deal with Sochaux and signed with Randers. He has only been with Randers for one week and is set to open their season on Saturday against Sonderjyske.
In his first few days since joining his new team, Davies has been focused on returning to fitness as well as getting settled into the environment. He is still learning the style of his teammates but he is confident chemistry will develop soon.
Physically he insists that he feels the best he has since the accident.
"I'm feeling actually pretty good," Davies said. "We have a lot of talent on this team. I feel that as soon as I get some fitness, I'll really be able to take off here and get back to where I was."
"Physically I feel great and this is the best I've felt in three years. I just have to let my performance speak for itself and let everyone see how bad I want it."
Davies has not played significant first team minutes since last October when his loan to DC United expired. The 2011 MLS season was the first extended playing time Davies received since the accident and it was tough for him both physically and mentally.
Towards the end of his team at DC United, Davies believed he had made progress and hoped to build on that when he returned to Sochaux. That, however, was not the case as he did not receive the chance to help the team in a meaningful way.
"DC United was basically my first real games back," Davies explained. "For my first full season back it was extremely difficult. It got fatigued and tired mentally. It was very stressful and tiring. There were a lot of ups and downs."
"I went back to Sochaux and I really believed that with a chance I would have been able to score some goals and have some success," he added. "Unfortunately I didn't get a great chance to do that and that's why I'm here now."
Despite the disappointment of not playing towards the end of the recent Ligue 1 season, Davies will take with him far more positives than negatives from his time there. The club gave him a chance to play at a high level and progress in his rehab.
During his time in France, Davies went through highs and lows and the process of learning how to deal with a wide range of experiences is what he will most remember from his time there.
"It was a real learning experience," Davies said of his time with Sochaux. "I think what I went through there will help me not only as a professional and player, but also as a person.. Even if the whole experience wasn't good, it was still an amazing time in learning how to handle the highs and lows. You have to learn to deal with everything. I definitely thank Souchaux for that time."
When Davies was considering his future after the Sochaux experience, he had options but one thing he never considered was a return to MLS. His time with DC United was extremely important in helping him return but Davies felt he had unfinished business in Europe.
He does want to play in MLS again in the future but he wants to play in Europe now because it is where soccer is the top sport.
"I definitely enjoyed my time in MLS and it was what I needed," Davies pointed out. "MLS has progressed so much and the quality is quite good. I would definitely come back to MLS in the future. But at this time, I wasn't thinking about coming back to MLS. I really want to succeed in Europe. That's why I went to Sweden initially over MLS. Europe is where they eat, breathe, and sleep soccer.
Another reason why Davies elected to remain in Europe is because in his opinion it will offer him the best chance to return to the US national team.
Prior to the accident, Davies had broken into the US national team's starting lineup and was an important part of the attack under former head coach Bob Bradley. It's been nearly a year since Jurgen Klinsmann replaced Bradley and Davies is yet to speak with the team's new coach.
Still, Davies remains an avid follower of the US team and knows that scoring again at Randers should put him back into the picture.
"I have not spoken with [Jurgen] directly," Davies concluded. "A lot of my really close friends still play on the national team, so of course I follow the US team and I always will. It holds a special place in my heart."
"I think like any other player, if I score goals in Europe I'll get back in the team's picture. If you have success here, it doesn't go unnoticed."
Davies and Randers visit Sonderjyske this Saturday in their opening game of the 2012/12 Danish Superliga season.