It had been 319 scoreless minutes without Brad Davis on the field. But after just 16 minutes with him back in the mix, the Houston Dynamo finally returned to the score sheet.
Davis made his return Sunday in Houston’s 1-1 draw with the visiting Portland Timbers and showed no ill effects after three games out with a right ankle sprain. The captain lined up in a three-man midfield as the club switched to a 4-3-3 formation and was a driving force in much of the positive play the Dynamo put together.
Davis also hit a perfectly weighted cross to wide open forward Will Bruin to give the Dynamo their first goal since April 5, a stretch that lasted 334 minutes before Davis helped leave it in the dust.
“You take that caliber of player, he’s a national team player for a reason, and he comes back and it’s a really big boost for us,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said of Davis, who logged 79 minutes before he was subbed out. “There’s no question about it, we’re a better team with him on the field.”
After three games watching his team struggle, it was a cathartic game for the World Cup hopeful.
“Everything felt good,” Davis told MLSsoccer.com. “Happy to get 80 minutes, felt good to be back out there with my teammates and looking forward to continually progress to getting back. To be back on the field and contribute in a positive way always feels good.”
Gauging Davis’ impact was pretty simple business. And with the team in a tailspin, getting his technique and precision back in the lineup was notable, and the Dynamo looked better for it.
The attack was stronger, the passes were crisper and, most importantly, the scoreboard lit up with Davis’ 104th career assist, fifth all-time in league history.
“He’s a good player. During the run of play he wants the ball, he makes the right passes, obviously his cross to Will was very well taken,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “So he was good, it’s an easy question to answer. All of a sudden we’re a better team when he’s available for us.”
Davis was not, the savior, however, as Houston still struggled to find the game-winner against a frustrated Timbers team winless through its first eight games this year. But in a game from which Davis and the Dynamo chose to take the positives after a rough week, having their World Cup hopeful back was a boost the club and player have waited to enjoy for nearly a month.
“I needed to get back and be healthy for [USMNT World Cup camp], but it starts here,” Davis said. “If I wasn’t ready to play this weekend, I wouldn’t have played. Fortunately I was able to have a really good week and hopefully I’ll be back, and obviously being back helps my chances getting into that camp.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.