U.S. star Charlie Davies, despite quick recovery, has not yet received invite to World Cup training camp

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 30, 2010

NEW YORK -- With World Cup training camp set to open in about two weeks, U.S. Coach Bob Bradley said Thursday that he has yet to decide whether to invite Charlie Davies, the dynamic forward who has recovered from severe injuries suffered in a fatal auto accident last fall in the Washington area.

Davies, 23, has resumed full-time training with his French club, Sochaux, but will not play in any of the remaining four league matches.

Bradley must submit a 30-man preliminary roster by May 11. He plans to bring between 26 and 28 players to training camp, which will begin May 16 at Princeton University. A final list of 23 players is due June 1 -- 11 days before the Americans play England in their Group C opener in Rustenburg, South Africa.

"Those final steps are the hardest steps," Bradley said of Davies. "We still need to see where that goes."

Davies, the U.S. team's fastest attacking player who scored against Mexico at Azteca Stadium last summer, has made a remarkable comeback from injuries that threatened to derail his promising career.

In October, with a World Cup berth secure and the qualifying-round finale at RFK Stadium two days away, Davies broke curfew and was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed on the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Arlington. He suffered a lacerated bladder, fractured right tibia and fibula, broken elbow and facial injuries. Another passenger, Ashley J. Roberta, 22, was killed.

Given little chance of recuperating in time for World Cup consideration, Davies underwent months of rehabilitation and additional operations in the United States before returning to France.

Despite his rapid recovery, he has yet to play in a competitive match since the accident. U.S. fitness coach Pierre Barrieu speaks with Sochaux medical officials regularly and trainer Ivan Pierra will visit Davies soon, Bradley said.

"The fact that Charlie is this far along is great, but even within the framework of training, let's face it, there are different levels there," Bradley said. Making the World Cup squad "has been one of his motivating forces. That means something to all of us, but we still have to assess completely where he is as we make decisions, even for the camp."

If Davies were invited, he would need to prove himself during a week of practice and in tuneups against the Czech Republic on May 25 in East Hartford, Conn., and against Turkey four days later in Philadelphia.

Bradley's front-line options also include Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez, who have surged into consideration despite scant national team experience. Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy) leads Major League Soccer with seven goals and Gomez is among the top scorers in the formidable Mexican league with Puebla after mixed production in MLS.

Besides Davies, Bradley is monitoring two other regulars recovering from long-term injuries, though both are expected to make the training camp roster: defender Oguchi Onyewu, who damaged a patella tendon in October and recently resumed full-time training with Italian club AC Milan; and England-based midfielder Stuart Holden (broken leg).

Veteran forward Brian Ching (hamstring) is also in a race to regain fitness.

Bradley is close to ruling out Jermaine Jones, a German American midfielder for Bundesliga club Schalke. He committed to the U.S. program last year but a persistent leg injury has prevented him from making his American debut and returning to league play.

"If it's not going to happen for the summer, he may need another surgical procedure," Bradley said. "Jermaine has tried to hold off as long as he could to give this thing time, but I think we'll know in the next week whether it has any hope."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company