- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 18, 2009

Charlie Davies, a little-known American striker, is having a dream summer.

In the span of a few weeks, Davies played against some of the best teams on the planet, earned a move to a bigger club and positioned himself for a shot at the World Cup.

Davies burst into the public consciousness at the Confederations Cup in South Africa last month when he scored a goal against Egypt and set up Landon Donovan’s excellent tally against Brazil. He now looks like he’ll be a fixture on the U.S. team.

A high-energy player, the Manchester, N.H., native was not considered a starter on the squad until recently. He isn’t profiled in the team’s media guide, but Davies took advantage of his stage in South Africa.

“You’ve got to train hard and work hard to get your time,” he said. “And when you get the chance, you have to take it.”

The 23-year-old was a regular on U.S. youth teams, but he left Boston College early to play in Europe and for a while was forgotten. Now he is back and proving he can handle big games. At the Confederations Cup, he started in the 2-0 upset of Spain and the 3-2 loss to Brazil.

“It all happened pretty fast,” he said. “It was great that I got so much time playing with my club and was able to continue to play, and now I’m looking forward to keep playing teams like Brazil and Spain.”

His good play has been rewarded: Earlier this month, Davies’ Swedish club, Hammarby IF, traded him to French club FC Sochaux.

“It’s gratifying to know that all the hard work I put in the past two seasons is paying off now,” he said. “Obviously I have a long way to go. I’m still young. I’m still getting my feet wet in the international game, but I’m making progress.”

After joining Hammarby, Davies saw little action. But last year he scored 14 goals in 27 games in Sweden, prompting U.S. coach Bob Bradley to call him into the team. He got off to a promising start, scoring his first international goal in a 2-1 loss at Trinidad and Tobago in a World Cup qualifier in October.

The Americans now face five World Cup qualifiers, beginning with a trip to Mexico on Aug. 12, and Davies is sure to be in Bradley’s plans. Davies has proved he is good at getting behind the defense with his aggressive play and speed, but he needs to work on his first touch.

“For me, it’s to come in and cause a lot of havoc for the back line,” said Davies, who scored four goals in nine games in Sweden this season. “With the energy I bring into a game, I’m able to change the way we play.”

He proved his performance in South Africa was no fluke by scoring a goal in the U.S. team’s 4-0 win against Grenada in the Gold Cup and setting up Santino Quaranta’s goal in a 2-0 win against Honduras at RFK Stadium.

Freedom update - The Washington Freedom (4-6-5, 17 points) face the Saint Louis Athletica (7-5-2, 23 points) at 5 p.m. Saturday at RFK Stadium as part of a doubleheader with D.C. United.

Washington sits fifth in the seven-team league and needs a win to get back in the playoff picture. When the teams last met, a Rebecca Moros goal earned the Freedom a 1-0 road win. Earlier in the season, the clubs tied 3-3.

The Freedom will be without Abby Wambach, who is on national team duty against Canada on Sunday at Rochester, N.Y., where she will try to score her 100th goal before her hometown fans. The Freedom also will be without goalie Erin McLeod, who plays for Canada.

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