After 12 years in Major League Soccer, Brad Davis is still learning lessons. As he heads into the most important year of his career, with a World Cup spot on the line, the season he just completed taught him just how hard balancing club and country can be.
In traveling to the likes of Honduras, Mexico, Panama and a variety of domestic cities, Davis spent more time in airports than ever before. As the 12-year veteran learned, keeping the candle lit on both ends is a taxing task.
“Trying to balance the national team with the Dynamo, for not having to do it before, people don’t realize how difficult it is,” Davis told MLSsoccer.com. “I didn’t even. I knew about the national team, but I didn’t know how difficult, how taxing it was.”
Davis made six appearances in 2013 for the USMNT, five coming in World Cup qualifying play. The opportunity for regular time with the national team is something Davis has waited his entire career for, but there were ramifications. While he was making his way into head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans, things with the Dynamo were not trending the same way as they had the past two years.
Coming off two of his best years in MLS, including an MVP runner-up season in 2011, Davis’ numbers dropped off in 2013. He produced nine assists in 26 games, a respectable number, but down from his previous four seasons where he averaged 13 per year.
“I go back and look at it each year, but for what I personally went through this year I don’t think it’s bad,” Davis said. “Do I think I could’ve been better this year? Yeah, every year I think I could’ve been better. Overall, I think it was a positive year. I think it was balanced pretty well."
“People don’t realize how tough it is to travel and to play, and for Brad, I’m sure it was a bit of an eye opener,” head coach Dominic Kinnear, who appeared for the U.S. 54 times, added. “You’re going from game to country to passport center and there’s different fields and different climates and it can wear on your body.”
More travel is likely in Davis’ future. He told MLSsoccer.com that he believes he will be in the January camp for the US, a camp that Klinsmann has pointed to as important for MLS-based players with World Cup aspirations. Staying fit and sharp, and having a legitimate shot at a plane ticket to Brazil to face the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and perennial favorites Germany begins in mere weeks for the domestic group.
Davis is intent upon taking the chance to show Klinsmann what he can do. Again.
“I want to make sure that when I get in this January camp I want to be fit and ready to go,” Davis said. “I think he’s got his idea of the group he wants to bring into the World Cup preparation camp. I think it is [an important chance] for lot of guys.
“Once I knew I was back into the national team scene, this could be my last go-around with it, so I’m going to do everything in my power to go.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.