Yesterday, or a couple of days ago, hell, I don’t know, Charlie Davies was left off the 30-man preliminary roster for the U.S. World Cup team (that’s soccer, America). This is would not have been particularly surprising news had the reason for his omission been his substantial injuries in a car wreck last fall. But that isn’t why Davies was left off the roster by U.S. skipper Bob Bradley.
Davies actually has made something of a miraculous recovery from the broken everything he sustained in the wreck. He has been training with Sochaux, his club in France, since March. The club decided that he wouldn’t play again this season as a precautionary measure, but that he was even able to train is pretty amazing.
Turns out, however, that Sochaux did a little more than that in order to keep Davies from playing again any time soon. Turns out the club’s president or whoever sent a letter to Bradley telling the coach that Davies wasn’t anywhere near ready to play and that the club wouldn’t medically clear him to play in the World Cup.
Davies didn’t know about the letter until Bradley called him to let him know he wasn’t on the roster. The club never said anything.
So lemme get this straight: Bob Bradley left Davies (our second-best forward) off the prelim roster because of a letter from a French club? I don’t know any of the insider stuff or anything, but on the surface, this is pretty pathetic. Maybe Bradley didn’t think U.S. Soccer could negotiate with Sochaux to get them to clear Davies, but a little effort probably wouldn’t have killed either side, right?
I have no idea whether Davies would have been ready to actually play and be as good as he was during qualifying. He promised he would be ready by the team’s June opener against England, but that could have been hubris.
What I do know is his invitation to camp would have been a real lift for the team given how close many of them are to Davies and how terrifying it must have been to almost lose one of their own. And hey, maybe he shows up and isn’t ready, so all Bradley has to do is cut him anyway. At least then the team would have seen it with their own eyes.
Now, our next-best option to play up top with Jozy Altidore is Conor Casey or Brian Ching. Brian f-ing Ching. Or two guys who most casual fans didn’t even know were American until two days ago, one of whom hasn’t been capped since like 2006. Casey ain’t on the roster, while the 26-year-old Eddie Johnson has a chance to move in and take Davies’ spot in the starting lineup.
My quasi-informed opinion: start Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey next to Altidore, and put the other on the wing opposite Stuart Holden. Ching, Casey and the other guys are not good enough to start and compete on the level we’re going to need. As subs, sure, but we need playmakers, not Brian f-ing Ching.