ORLANDO, Florida – In a life and career full of remarkable comebacks, Charlie Davies added another to the list on Sunday night.
Davies, who revealed on Saturday that he’s in remission after being diagnosed with liposarcoma – a rare form of cancer – in the spring, appeared off the bench for the final 15 minutes of the New England Revolution’s 3-1 loss to Orlando City SC at Camping World Stadium.
It was his first appearance since April 27.
“As a player, as a teammate, my main goal and focus was to get back on the field,” Davies said. “I think it’s very similar to the adversity I faced with the car accident. My main focus was getting back on the field and being dynamic and being dangerous as always.
“It was emotional, for sure, just to get back out there. I feel like I’m just coming out and I had to face another hurdle, to get past that. I feel like now I’m past it and I’ve completed the comeback to be back on the field. Now it’s about helping this team win and get points.”
Despite the miraculous personal aspect of his story – he was diagnosed less than three months ago and is now cancer-free – Davies turned every question on Sunday night into a critique of his own performance and an analysis of what he can do to help the team win moving forward.
It was that determination and focus that helped drive Davies through his recovery, and likely what prompted his comeback so quickly after a major surgical procedure.
“The focus for me is not just getting on the field, but being the same player I was or even better,” Davies said. “That’s always the goal. That’s the motivation. I think that’s what keeps me going – to make sure that I can come back and have a night where I feel like I changed the game.
“Hopefully a couple more weeks of training and I think those chances will turn to goals.”
While Davies was kicking himself about a pair of missed chances in his 15-minute stint, his teammates were more than willing to express their appreciation for a player who not only tackled another obstacle with determination, but – in typical Charlie Davies fashion – with a smile on his face.
“I look at myself as somebody coming from Sierra Leone, the civil war, to have been through a lot, but no,” said Kei Kamara. “This guy, he’s done it all. It’s a joy to have him on the field and in the locker room because seriously, the positivity that he brings to this team is amazing.”
“We’ve seen the hard work that he’s done,” said Andrew Farrell. “It feels great to see someone of such great character and such a good person back on the field, healthy and with his family doing well.”
Davies was also able to share a special moment postgame with a former teammate. Kevin Alston, who was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia when he was with the Revolution in 2013, played the full 90 minutes for Orlando on Sunday night. Alston, too, is in remission.
Davies and Alston shared a hug after the final whistle, and both are hoping that their stories of perseverance and ultimate triumph can prove inspirational to others.
“We both had our battles and I think it’s great that we can have this bond, and hopefully continue to inspire and uplift people that maybe are going through the same situation, or give people hope,” Davies said. “That’s my main goal in life is to inspire and help people and give them hope.”
There’s no doubt Davies inspired fans throughout Major League Soccer on Sunday night when he completed yet another remarkable comeback. But for the 30-year-old forward, this was simply the first step on the road to increased minutes, and ultimately, a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“Tonight was a great step in the right direction for me,” Davies said. “But for me, it’s continuing to build off each performance. Hopefully heading into the last part of the season we can catch fire as a team and head into the playoffs strong.”