Davies' return highlights opening week in MLS

By Brian Westfall, Soccer Editor

MLS Features Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It took less than an hour to bring Charlie Davies to tears. Seventeen months after a near-fatal accident, Davies returned to professional soccer Saturday, highlighting the opening week in Major League Soccer with a pair of goals.

Davies entered D.C. United's season opener early in the second half, scored on a penalty kick 10 minutes later and added another goal within just 25 minutes, sparking his new club to an impressive 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew.

After the final whistle, as Davies looked into the crowd and "realized how far I've come," tears flowed down the 24-year-old's face. Davies called his return a "fairy tale," even though this night was just the beginning.

"It was crossing the finish line," said Davies, who sustained a broken femur, tibia, fibula, left elbow, left eye socket and nose, a lacerated bladder and a torn knee ligament in a car accident outside Washington, D.C., in 2009, "but a new race begins."

Charlie Davies
Charlie Davies joined MLS and D.C. United on loan this season.
It was fitting Davies returned to the field at RFK Stadium, not far from where his life changed - and nearly ended - in a one-car accident that took the life of one passenger.

Davies was last on the field just three days before the accident in a 3-2 win over Honduras which sealed the Americans' berth in the World Cup. Davies never imagined that night he wouldn't be a part of the tournament.

The injuries sidelined Davies through the World Cup. He was unable to return to a prominent role with club team Sochaux in France, so he joined MLS and D.C. United on loan this season.

Just minutes after running on the field Saturday, United was awarded a penalty and Davies immediately looked at captain Dax McCarty, who handed the ball over and said, "We believe in you."

Davies calmly slotted the penalty into the right side of the goal, marking the moment he waited almost two years for and worked so hard to experience again.

"I had a one hundred percent confidence," McCarty said.

The Davies of old was even more evident 15 minutes later, when he won the ball from two-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall, raced around goalie Will Hesmer and slotted into the left side of the net past a helpless Julius James.

"I was ready for this moment," Davies said. "I wanted to play hard and make an impact, and I was able to do that."

After less than one half of soccer, Davies remains driven to return to an even higher level. He wants to succeed with United, regain a role with the U.S. and evolve into world-class striker.

"I still have a long way to go, as far as being that dominant striker on the world stage that I've always wanted to be," he said, a noticeable scar running from ear-to-ear across his head.

"I think I'll get there."

There's no reason to doubt him. And there's every reason to think his story is likely to include a few more tears.

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Contact Brian Westfall at bwestfall@sportsnetwork.com.

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