Could Charlie Davies Make DC United an MLS Cup Contender?

The rumor mill was in full tilt Tuesday with the news that national team member Charlie Davies was sent by his French club Sochaux to train with D.C. United in Florida, with a successful training leading to a year-long loan.  Yesterday, the Black-and-Red confirmed Davies was in camp and was being given a fitness tryout to see if he is physically ready to receive playing time again.  Assuming Davies is fit, United would have the striker they have sought this offseason and Davies would have a chance to rehabilitate his career.

The reaction not surprisingly has been mixed, with some opining that this is exactly what Davies needs to restart his career (and DCU their franchise) and others saying that this deal is not only not workable, but possibly a mistake.  My thought is this deal is a win-win.  Davies gets the chance to see exactly where he is in his rehabilitation and how far away he is from competing for a national team spot, if that is even possible.  Sochaux gets to see if Davies, whom they have put on their bench once since the accident, is a potential addition for them or a valuable trade chip.  And D.C. United and MLS have a familiar face for U.S. soccer fans in the nation’s capital.

But the focus of this post is not to analyze this from a personal angle, but from a league-wide angle, specifically does the Davies acquisition make D.C. United an MLS Cup contender.  If you look at the circumstances, the answer looks to be “possibly yes”. This scenario would assume that not only is Davies close to his previous level of health, but that the Black-and-Red avoid the injury bug that infected them last year.  These things of course are unknown and a major assumption, but they are not impossible.

DCU’s offseason has been a frantic remake of the club such that the team that finished last in goals scored in 2010 and close to last in goals allowed are bringing in a series of new faces in a variety of positions.  The entire back line will be a mix of now-healthy players (Jed Zayner, Dejan Jackovic) and acquisitions (Rodrigo Braseca, Perry Kitchen) that will help relieve pressure off of now-healthy highly-rated academy product Bill Hamid in goal.  The midfield is also vastly improved with the Dax McCarty trade and the continued emergence of MLS ROY Andy Najar.  In fact, the roster looked set except for that elusive big-play striker.  United had acquired Josh Wolff and Joseph Ngwenya, but neither has been a big scorer in their career and both look to be more complementary forwards.  Now, with a potentially healthy Charlie Davies, DCU has that playmaker up front to score and take the pressure off Najar.

However, the names of the players in the previous paragraph are for the most part not likely to elicit shivers of expectation.  After all, besides Najar and McCarty, none of the DCU starters can be considered currently elite or close-to-elite (maybe a healthy Santino Quaranta, but that’s a stretch).  But the second factor in a potential D.C. United Cup run is the conference.  Look at the 2011 Eastern Conference.  Besides a loaded New York team, who is the second best team in the conference?  Last year’s second best team is going through a total rebuild.  Teams like Chicago and New England competed for playoff spots but both have glaring weaknesses.  Toronto is talented but in flux with a totally new leadership team.  Kansas City has a ton of talent and upside, but still have defensive holes to plug.  Philadelphia is going in the right direction but still needs some more offense.

With a new ten team playoff structure, a middling club can make the playoffs and, depending on the structure, automatically have a chance at the MLS Cup.  But if D.C. United turns out to be the second place Eastern Conference team, and the league continues to value conference finishing and give the #2 conference seed a bye, then the playoff schedule could fall out well for DCU.  We saw this last year: Colorado, a very good but not one of the best teams gets a favorable playoff schedule and makes a run to the Cup.  A high-finishing good team in 2011 can do the same thing, especially if they play in the weaker Eastern Conference.

So should we begin to add a fifth star to the DCU jerseys?  Not by a long shot.  This scenario is based on a lot of conjecture and assumption.  But if Charlie Davies is healthy and on his way to recovery, then there is a path to success this season for United.  They could enter that second tier of clubs in 2011, right behind the Galaxy/RedBulls/RSL types, and that might be enough for the team to make some noise in the playoffs.

30 thoughts on “Could Charlie Davies Make DC United an MLS Cup Contender?”

  1. Four comments:
    1. Love the article. Man, who would have thought this type of article would be on this site. AN MLS ARTICLE. As an added benefit it gets rid of the chaff, who doesn’t watch MLS, too !

    2. The teams that have pulled the “worst to first” LA and NY, have done so in part with a defensive stud out of college. DC got that, stole that, in this draft. Davies aside they could be in the playoff hunt.

    3. Noone knows on Davies, but if he is healthy, he is one of the star players in MLS.

    4. BUT Neither LA or NY, who you mention in your article as one of the elite MLS teams this year, won MLS Cup.

    ps. Davies is taking a bit of a risk in my opinion. Let’s say MLS is undervalued, I am not going to argue it, like I said it is MY opinion why he is taking a risk, I believe it, we know who doesn’t. IF he is healthy and doesn’t crush it, they everyone who undervalues MLS says…he is still injured.

    I guess that is 5 comments….here is 6…BYE BYE CHAFF !!!

  2. An MLS Cup contender because they might add a broken down former USMNT player? Are you crazy? They were the worst team in MLS last year.
    They need more than Charlie Davies to make them a contender.

    Davies hasn’t proven anything yet, and it’s not like he lit France on fire before his injury. He’s not the savior of DC.

    1. Galaxy in 2008 was the worst team, 2009 was in the Final. New York in 2009 was pitiful, Eastern conference winners, half of which was without Marquez and Henry

      You can go from worst to first. Additionally, why call him a broken down former USMNT player? He’s still on the roster in France, albeit in the reserves, but I think he still has time to go to recover fully from his accident, and DC United could assist

  3. Well, as a United supporter since ’96…BRING IT ON! I guess I’ll be going to a couple more games this year if this deal goes through. It’s a win-win-win deal. Souchaux gets to see if Charlie can play. Charlie gets to prove he can play. And DCU gets a desperately needed striker. A 90% Davies is better than what DC’s had in the past couple years.

  4. Charles- LA won the SS, so they can be counted as an elite team.

    I can’t see Charlie Davies improving DC enough to make them elite, but you never know. I look watching him in the MLS, and especially DC’s game in Colorado.

    1. I count them as an elite team, dont get me wrong, the question was will DC win the MLS Cup.
      Just saying teams that have gone up the short ladder in a parity league from worst to the elite in MLS, still have a hard time winning MLS.

      Sorry if I was unclear.

  5. It’s a great move for both CD9 and for DC, but it’s not going to be enough to get them to the playoffs.

    Robert, DC’s backline is still a mess despite Kitchen. They also have a poor midfield defensively (even though it’s good offensively).

  6. I love this and thinks its great for the league. Davies has become a US soccer star, a small one but he is still very well known. If he can get back his form his will be fantastic and honestly I have a reason to tune into DCU matches now. It’s a shame the Galaxy didn’t acquire him though. Angel and Davies (at full form) up front is a nightmare for anyone.

      1. Man, I hope the grab the aging big name guy fails in MLS. Big time.

        It is starting to get annoying. There is another guy a day claiming to want to come here.
        Plus with all the progress US soccer is making with US players, that succeeding will set US soccer back.

        Not to mention MLS pi55ing away what little money they have.

    1. DCU has first crack because that’s how the MLS allocations process works for Nats like Davies. Sheesh, isn’t this a MLS fan site?

  7. First, he’s got to get healthy. Second, the problems at DCU run deeper than a couple new acquisitions and a new coach can fix in a season.

  8. DCU has lots of talent in the midfield now. Plus guys like Quaranta and Pontius who had nagging injuries last year, appear to be healthy and should be better.

    The backline was hit the hardest by injuries last season. Now though, they look to be healthy and should improve drastically as a unit (I know, not hard to raise the bar, based on last year’s production).

    There is also the wild card of Brank Boskovic. He certainly struuggled acclimating to the American game in his half season here. However, based on his track record with the Momtenegrin National Team, a full offseason with DCU could be a real benefit.

    We have seen this worst to first (or something similar pan out more than once, in our league of parity. Why not a struggling DC United franchise that’s due for something to go right ………

    1. He is about to fall to 9th place when they lose to Barca ( in their record 16th straight win in LaLiga ).

      The good news is they will only be 31 points back, so they are not mathmatically eliminated.

      Come to the Sounders Forlan !

      1. ………and he lost 3-0. I wonder if he got to touch the ball.

        Come to Seattle after this season, Diego ! I guarentee you we won’t be 31 points back your entire career…and you will play in front larger home crowds.

        1. Charles, it’s rumoured that Caleb Folan might be headed to the MLS…that might be more realistic (Google him to find his stats if you want a good laugh).

        2. Oh and also, Seattle do NOT play in front of larger home crowds that Atletico Madrid. Atletico’s average attendance this season is over 38k. Seattle’s is 36k (not that that isn’t incredible in its own right). It’s not hard to google this stuff.

          1. No problemo…like I say, it’s incredible in it’s own right, and that link is pretty interesting. Really highlights how much the Italian Serie A has declined – I’m shocked (but not entirely surprised) that only two teams in Serie A get more than 36k! Roma, Lazio, Juve, Napoli (?) all used to get bigger crowds than that just a short while ago.

          2. It shows me how quickly MLS could start to attract major players. Not like we are going have Euro Champions League money to throw around, but most of Europe doesn’t either.

            With “Fairplay” coming too….

            Combine that with the lower 1/2 of the leagues, teams really play for nothing ( I know I am the only one that believes that )

        3. Players are not going to come to MLS to play in front of a certain sized crowd; they come to further their careers, i.e. MONEY.

          MLS will not compete for “major players” anytime soon because they can’t pay. Charlie Davies makes over $600,000/year as a squad player for a middle-of-the-pack team in France. The average salary in the Championship is around 400,000 pounds. Which means average players in England’s second division would probably have to take a pay cut to come to MLS. Buddle’s contract is around 400,000 euros at a second-division German club.

          Plus, buying elite players in their prime requires massive outlays for transfer fees, which MLS is in no position to do. Chelsea just paid 50 million pounds for Fernando Torres, on top of wages around 160,000 pounds/week.

          Financial Fair Play will impact none of these things regarding MLS.

  9. They’re going to need a lot more than CD9. I don’t mean that as an insult, just a reality check. RBNY was able to pull off such a turnaround due to several additions to the club and an excellent new manager. While DC United may be in a similar position as NY was the previous year, it’s asking a lot for a guy coming off those horrific injuries to be the main supplier of offense. I would expect Najar to find the net a bit more often, and I’m sure McCarty will help the offense, but Cup contender? I’d be shocked.

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