Davis looking to translate club success to national team level
It is interesting to think that the player in USMNT camp with the most to prove is one of the most accomplished club players in camp. However, that is the position that the Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis is in.
A star in MLS with two championships, four conference championships and an MVP runner-up finish to his name, Davis, 30, has yet to establish himself on the international landscape. What has held Davis back so far? According to his critics, it is a lack of an all-around game.
On his third trip into a January national team camp, the left-footed sniper is getting his first chance to show head coach Jurgen Klinsmann that his all-around skills translate to the international level.
“I think I see the game well, I can find a way to make a difference on the game,” Davis said when asked what he wants to show Klinsmann. “There’s not just one thing, it’s about getting in with a group of guys and trying to make the group better.
“I just need to go in with this being my first opportunity with Jurgen and his team, and not concentrate on just one thing but all around give everything. Playing a full game, defending, attacking and becoming a piece of the puzzle.”
That is something Davis has done at the MLS level yet his inclusion, or non-inclusion, seems to bring out debate on the matter.
On one side of the coin are his proponents that believe his skill on the ball, ability to pick out the right pass and dead ball ability would add a definitive quality to the red, white and blue. His detractors, however, fall back on an argument that he does not possess the athleticism or work rate to succeed at the international level.
It is an argument that the last few years, according to Davis, should debunk.
“This year there was an announcer that said I’ve lost a step since I’ve gotten older and I’ve actually gotten faster,” the midfielder said with a chuckle. “To be totally honest, it's comments like that that are ridiculous to me but you can’t hang on to that stuff.
“I know what my abilities are. I’m not going to be the fastest person on the team but I feel like I think the game well and I’m a good passer. You’ve got to find that happy medium and have a good combination of players on a team.”
Looking at where Davis fits into Klinsmann’s combination of players could go a few directions. He could stay out wide, his common spot in MLS play, in a 4-4-2 or be employed centrally in Klinsmann’s preferred 4-3-3 to take a role that the German coach has struggled to fill.
When in the 4-3-3, Houston plays a similar system to the one Klinsmann employed against Russia with wingers crashing the post around a midfield looking to pull the strings. It is that string-puller role that Klinsmann has yet to fill full-time while trying the likes of Jose Torres and Jermaine Jones, among others, with no consistent solution.
Consequently, it is that skill-set that Davis has relied on while donning the orange jersey while using his decision-making and passing skill to drive Houston’s attack from the center.
“Finding the flow of the game, I have a pretty good eye for that,” said the left-footer, who came up playing in the center of the pitch. “Whatever the game brings I feel I can adjust to that and try and help out any way I can.
“For me, I’ve got the chance and now I have to go make the most of it,” Davis continued. “That’s what I’m going to do. Go there work hard, open some eyes and make it difficult for him not to choose me and then go from there.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DarrellLovell.