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“That just goes to show they don’t believe in you, they don’t want you back, they don’t want you to succeed, they don’t want you to reach your goals.”

In response to Davies‘ remarks, Sochaux sent a statement from Lacombe to The Washington Times: “These are statements of an embittered player done after a period of deception due to a heavy injury. … As a French Ligue 1 club we are obliged to follow the French law in order to adapt the social security system when an employee isn’t able to work due to illness or injury.”

As Lacombe clarifies, “An independent doctor has to apply the law and decide whether the player is ready to play at the requested level.” Later in the statement, the president notes Davies “played with our reserves and his stats proved that he was not yet back at the same level as before.”

Davies subsequently shifted his attention to MLS, where he and Sochaux agreed he could best develop his form and fitness with regular minutes. As fate would have it, United were atop the allocation order for his services.

After a weeklong tryout in February, he signed a loan deal with D.C. that took his story back to the city where the turmoil began. (The team also has the option to buy his contract outright from Sochaux at season’s end.)

As much as Davies needed United, the D.C. side was just as desperate for a player of his stature. Coming off a 6-20-4 campaign that saw attendance for the four-time MLS Cup champions plummet to an all-time low, United had to bolster the least-productive attacking corps in MLS history and give fans reason to make the trek to RFK Stadium.

On the other hand, there still was plenty of risk from the front office’s standpoint. Although Lacombe said Sochaux pays half of Davies‘ salary, the player still is on United’s books for $244,870 this year, and D.C. could ill-afford to dedicate such a large portion of the salary cap to someone not physically ready to compete.

“None of us really knew how this was going to play out,” said United coach Ben Olsen, who played with Davies for the U.S. at the 2007 Copa America. “But we were excited about the prospect of him developing and getting back to form.”

Davies returned to the pitch in the 52nd minute of United’s season opener against the Columbus Crew, finally reaching the moment he had been dreaming of for 17 months. When D.C. earned a penalty kick shortly thereafter, McCarty picked up the ball and handed it to him, saying seven words the forward won’t forget: “We trust you. We believe in you.”

Davies converted the spot kick, sending the jumping, singing United faithful into a state of pandemonium. He would score again minutes later, this time from the run of play. The story could not have written itself any better.

“It just goes to show with faith, with belief in yourself, you can achieve the impossible,” Davies said that night.

The day after Davies‘ accident, with the U.S. playing Costa Rica and the player miles away in a medically induced coma, the RFK Stadium supporters paid tribute by chanting his name and raising sheets of paper emblazoned with his No. 9.

Staring at those same fans as United’s 3-1 win over Columbus ended, Davies let their devotion sink in. The emotion “really brought out the tears,” just as it did the first time he watched a recording of the Costa Rica match

“Their support has really touched me,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to see all the fans with No. 9s and Davies jerseys and signs. It’s definitely meaningful.”

‘A cult icon’

Story Continues →