FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Charlie Davies is a player known for being fleet of foot, but on Saturday it was his speed of thought which set the game-winning sequence in motion against the San Jose Earthquakes.
With the Revs and Earthquakes level at 1-1 deep into stoppage time, Davies was fouled near midfield. But instead of killing time and catching his breath – a tactic which may have ensured a draw – Davies saw an opportunity to catch the Earthquakes backline unaware and go for the win.
As quickly as the foul had been called, Davies took the free kick with a square pass to Scott Caldwell, who used his first touch to spring Lee Nguyen down the left side. Nguyen then drove straight at the backtracking Clarence Goodson and cut inside before burying the game winner.
“Always as a substitute, especially as a striker, you’ve got to come in and make a difference,” Davies said. “I caught them sleeping. They weren’t paying attention to the quick restart.”
It was the perfect way to cap an enterprising 2014 debut for Davies, who played the final 28 minutes at Buck Shaw Stadium after being left off the game-day roster for the Revolution’s first three matches. Incredibly, Davies’ half-hour stint against San Jose exceeded his entire 2013 minutes-played total (23), accrued in four substitute appearances.
For Davies, there is hope that Saturday night’s performance was the start of a resurgence following a difficult preseason in which he was largely sidelined by a lingering calf injury.
“I was very, very anxious to make my debut with the Revolution this season,” he said. “I put in so much hard work this offseason and I think it’s a great first step for me to establish myself in the team.”
An in-form Davies could be a massive boost for the Revs, who otherwise lack a straight speed option to run at tired defenses late in games. That’s precisely what Davies did on Saturday night in San Jose, causing problems for the Earthquakes backline from the moment he stepped onto the field.
But Davies’ speed isn’t just about getting behind the backline; it’s also about the mere threat his speed presents and the space that creates for his teammates.
“Charlie did an excellent job coming in and adding a different element,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “He put a lot of pressure on their center backs. His first touch right away set the tone that he has the pace to get behind defenders and there’s nothing worse than when a guy can still get behind you in the 70th or 80th minute. So they have to drop off and respect it, and it allowed us to play a little bit underneath him.”
Overall, Davies was pleased with his first appearance of 2014 and what it says about his potential moving forward. But he was most happy about the Revs claiming victory, their first of the campaign.
“Everyone was very relieved because the team worked so hard and we deserved three points tonight,” Davies said. “We controlled the possession, we controlled the game and it was a great win and a great, satisfying feeling.”