For some time, Houston Dynamo veteran Brad Davis has been renowned for his dangerous left foot and his set-piece ability. And yet it's his overall game that has allowed him to become a fulcrum for his club and a candidate for the 2014 USA World Cup team.
But Davis is under no illusion: His specialties will be the key to earn him a ticket to Brazil this summer.
“To be honest, I feel like it's wide open. I feel that there’s just a handful or a few more guys that’ve truly solidified spots,” Davis said. “You’re trying to put a group together that’s going to complement each other very well.
“I might be a role player and I’m fine with that,” he continued. “I want a ticket to the World Cup to go and represent my country any possible way I can.”
Davis has shown he has the skills to compete at the international level and help the USMNT. He's made seven appearances under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, four in World Cup qualifiers: He helped see out a historic draw at Mexico and put the final nail in Panama’s World Cup coffin, showing both his touch and game management skills in the process.
“I think Brad adds something that no one else in the pool adds, which is his ability to just step right into the game,” said Davis’ fellow Dynamo and USMNTer Tally Hall, who was involved in January camp. “It’s known all over that if you get set pieces or you get the ball out wide, he’s the most dangerous guy in the league when it comes to whipping a ball in. He’s a smart enough soccer player that he can jump right in and his service, even at that level, is unique.”
While the focus for Davis is making the roster, the now 13-year veteran is not taking anything for granted. It was not long ago that Davis thought his international career, and any chance at a World Cup spot, was behind him.
Before being called in by Klinsmann, his last national team appearance came in 2010. The conventional wisdom was that he was not fast enough or athletic enough to make an impact. In that span of time Davis has dedicated himself to fitness and strength work with the Dynamo, adding to his educated touch and producing three strong seasons, including a second-place finish in the 2011 MVP voting.
For now, continuing that trend with a good start to the Dynamo's 2014 season is the next step towards the USMNT future he hopes for.
“Yes, the national team’s in the back on my head, but when I step on the field I’m not thinking I have to do great because of the national team,” Davis said. “Without a doubt it’s coming back here [to Houston], continuing to do what I’ve been doing and staying consistent and being a good leader.”
Davis could get another shot to show Klinsmann what he can do in the national team setup either March 5 against the Ukraine – though that match will likely feature a European-based roster – or vs. Mexico on April 2. The US boss is expected to name his roster for World Cup camp in May.
Thus far Davis has shown he is willing to do whatever is asked of him. That attitude could well be what allows him to make the final cut.
“I think there’s something to be said about bringing certain skills to the table,” Davis said. “I don’t know what that role’s going to be, maybe it is as a role player and you know what, I’m fine with that.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.