Following his playing career, Charlie Davies now stars behind the desk for CBS Sports during the broadcaster’s World Cup Qualifying studio shows.
As a former player with the United States Men’s National Team, the player-turned-pundit provides analysis on the current generation. Working with the likes of fellow USMNT alums Clint Dempsey, Oguchi Onyewu and Maurice Edu. That includes the coverage upcoming for a pivotal fixture in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.
Currently, Canada sits atop the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying standings. Therefore, January 30’s Canada-U.S. fixture carries a special importance.
In a recent interview with World Soccer Talk, Charlie Davies talks about the importance of the upcoming international window for the U.S., citing his career as an example. Particularly, that upcoming fixture in Hamilton, ON, which likely takes place as a top-of-the-table showdown.
In prior years, Davies would be in the camp preparing for the slate of games against El Salvador, Canada and Honduras. Now, his experience provides insight into how those on the field play.
Of course, a job as an analyst is no easy task. For one, those in this position perform constant research on teams, players and coaches. Also, there is the threat of sounding biased towards one team or player. That is especially true with a national team that, in this case, Charlie Davies played for.
Davies represents the trend of former players entering the media world as analysts. That’s something CBS and Paramount+ take advantage of with their panel of talent for pregame and postgame coverage.
Charlie Davies talks career as an analyst
“It’s basically the U.S. National Team 2.0 for us to be able to come back together and be able to educate people on what we see and have experienced in an honest and genuine way.”
Between them, Davies, Clint Dempsey, Oguchi Onyewu and Maurice Edu have 273 USMNT caps. A healthy chunk of those come from Dempsey’s remarkable 14-year tenure. Yet, these four analysts have experience playing in major competitions for the United States.
With Davies accounting for 17 games and four goals with the United States, he uses some of his previous knowledge. Preparation is paramount for analysts, and it requires much more depth than what it used to for the forward.
“Typically, as a striker, I would watch the back line, I would watch the keeper, I would watch their tendencies. That was really all you needed to do. In this line of work, I have to watch each position on both sides. I have to watch, rewatch, watch, rewatch.”
Pete Radovich, CBS Sports’ Senior Creative Director, and the rest of the behind-the-scenes CBS staff assembled this crew with a certain intention. Not only do these former players have camaraderie with one another, but they have expertise that others lack. Also, do not forget the fact that each of these analysts only stopped their playing careers in 2017.
Despite the quick turnaround, Davies says nerves are never an issue on set. He attributes that, unsurprisingly, to his friends that he shares the desk with.
“Everyone understands when to speak and how to speak. When you get to do this with your best friends, we never really felt the nerves or pressure because we were just being ourselves.”
Davies adds that it is pretty much locker room talk. Rather than an overly formal discussion, the back-and-forth exhibited on CBS’s studio coverage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers makes it seem more personal.
However, there are certain threats to making it so casual. The major one of those is letting emotions and biases come into arguments.
Charlie Davies talks about how he wants to cover games fairly in his analytical career. Talk about both sides, criticize or praise both sides and be particular about positions. To be fair to Davies and the rest of the CBS crew, it can be hard to forget past allegiances.
In fact, sometimes those can be celebrated. Not many players can say they had to play on the road in CONCACAF for the USMNT. Less could say they scored a goal in those qualifiers. Anecdotes are among the best ways for fans to get a grasp of the difficulties of playing in Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica or a frigid Canada.
“I don’t want to be a homer. I want to call the game objectively and the way it is supposed to be called. That’s the only way to be successful in this role; to give a fair assessment of both teams.”
That being said, Davies admits that he holds a soft spot for this batch of USMNT products. The youth started coming through after his career. Yet, his time as an analyst allows him to stay connected to players and coaches.
“It’s all-encompassing, but it is a dream job. It’s one that I really enjoy with being able to have these conversations with players. I watch them grow and mature, especially with the current state of soccer players in this country.”
This generation’s most important World Cup Qualifying games are still to come. Davies sees a promising future.
Davies previews USMNT vs. Canada
The Canada-USMNT fixture is far from what Davies played in during his time. In fact, the now-analyst never played against Canada. That speaks to the progression of the Canadians, which is prominent even more so over the last five years.
Nowadays, Davies calls Canada an elite team, and the nation’s positioning in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying standings backs that argument up. Look no further than Canada’s win over Mexico in the last international window.
“That is the biggest differences from this Canadian team and those in the past. The mentality is that ‘we are one of the elite teams in CONCACAF.’”
Draws on the road against the United States and Mexico leave the Canadians as the last undefeated side in the competition.
“You have all the confidence in the world because you drew on the road in qualifying against the U.S. Also, you just beat Mexico, who is arguably the best team in CONCACAF, the top team.”
Yet, one of the producers of that confidence, and clearly Canada’s most dangerous option, is out for the next three international games. Alphonso Davies, of no relation to Charlie, is out against Honduras, the U.S. and El Salvador with a slight heart inflammation.
The Bayern Munich star’s absence takes away from the grandeur of this contest. Still Charlie Davies mentioned Tajon Buchanan, Richie Lareyea and Jonathan David as names that could pull the slack.
Major Moment for the Americans
The United States would need assistance to clinch a spot in the World Cup in Qatar during this window. That being said, nine points from three games is well-within the realm of possibility.
In fact, Charlie Davies talks about the expectation of three wins for the United States in this window for these young players’ careers.
“We all think they’re going to get nine points, and they should get nine points. But, it does not always work out this way. It will be interesting to see the rotation of players used.”
Davies refers to the mix of players at the disposal of U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter. Weston McKennie and Ricardo Pepi are the two major names that did not appear for the United States in the reverse fixture in Nashville. Those two, as well as the lack of Alphonso Davies for Canada, open up runs behind the two outside centerbacks. Assuming that Canada employs three at the back.
As things stand, the United States has six more games in World Cup qualifying. It is important for the team to remain near-sighted and not look ahead to the final window.
That window has fixtures against the teams currently placed third to fifth in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying standings.
“If you take nine points in the next three games, you are going to the World Cup. But, you cannot think about Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica until you take care of business in this window.”
Charlie Davies will be on Paramount+ ahead of Sunday’s Canada-USA game for pregame and postgame coverage. Television coverage of Thursday’s USA-El Salvador game is on ESPN2, with next week’s game against Honduras on FS1. All games not including the U.S. are on Paramount+.
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