FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Charlie Davies’ return to the field was a long time coming for Revolution fans, especially after a calf injury kept the 27-year-old forward out of preseason action. But he certainly made up for lost time in his season debut last Saturday.
Davies impressed in San Jose after coming on in the 62nd minute for Saer Sene. His pace threatened the San Jose backline, and created multiple chances in the final third as the Revolution tried to find three points on the road.
His efforts would pay off before the final whistle. Davies was fouled in stoppage time, and instead of taking his time with the free kick, he quickly played a pass to Scott Caldwell, who found the run of Lee Nguyen.
Nguyen looked up once toward Bunbury – who made a central run – as he cut across the top the 18, before sending his shot into the bottom-left corner from about 15 yards out in the 93rd minute. The goal proved to be the difference in the 2-1 win, and it all stemmed from Davies’ decision to restart quickly after being fouled.
“I sensed a chance to get a chance at goal,” Davies said. “I thought we could have caught them sleeping, which we did. For me, I wasn’t satisfied with the draw. I don’t think the team was fine with the draw either, I think we deserved the win.
“I was fortunate enough to see that it was a real chance for us, and thankfully Lee capped off a great finish.”
Coach Jay Heaps was liked what he saw from Davies’ performance on Saturday, noting that the forward’s ability to find space for behind San Jose’s defense late in the game gave the Revolution more room to work with in the San Jose half.
“I thought Charlie did an excellent job coming in and adding a different element,” said Heaps. “He put pressure on their center backs. His first touch right away kind of set the tone, and he has the pace to get behind defenders. There’s nothing worse than a guy who can get behind you in the 70th, 80th minute.
“So they have to drop off and respect it, and it allowed us to play a little bit underneath him.”
Davies’ substitute appearance against San Jose came after being included in Heaps’ gameday 18 for the first time this season. Since missing preseason with a calf injury, Davies has spent his time playing catch-up in training. But the substitute appearance is just the beginning of getting back to top-form, though.
“I’ve had a frustrating start to the season due to being injured for most of preseason, and I’ve really worked had this offseason to be ready for this year, not only for me personally, but to really help this team get to the next level,” Davies said.
“This game against San Jose was a good first step toward achieving that. I think I was impactful, I was dangerous and I was able to help change the game. I think it was definitely a good first step. I still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be, so all signs were positive.”
Nguyen thinks the 27-year-old provided a burst of energy that made an immediate impact on the rest of the team in San Jose.
“He’s been hungry since the beginning of the season,” Nguyen said. “It’s great to see him get his chance, and he made the most of it. He created a lot of chances, a lot of positive stuff when he came in, which was really good for our energy and our momentum.”
Davies, who played for a total of 23 minutes in four substitute appearances for the Revolution in 2013, is hoping his performance will continue to earn him more playing time in the coming weeks. The 28 minutes he played in San Jose was the longest he’s been on the field in a Revolution jersey, and there is no doubt that an in-form Davies could help New England find the back of the net more often.
For now, Saturday provided Davies with a return to game action – something he had been anxiously waiting to return to.
“I’m hungry,” Davies said. “I want to succeed, I want to help the team win. I feel like I’ve put myself in a position where I was going to be ready to get on the field and perform.
“For me, I’m just really anxious, excited, and I was chomping at the bit to get back on the field.”