The Union had one more card up their sleeves in the final hours before Major League Soccer's summer transfer window closed.
In a deal that was consummated very late Wednesday night, the Union acquired veteran forward Charlie Davies from the New England Revolution. Davies is likely to serve as the primary backup to C.J. Sapong at the top of the Union's attack.
"Charlie adds another dynamic dimension to our attack and is exactly the type of player we targeted during this window," Union sporting director Earnie Stewart said. "We're thrilled to be able to add another player of quality and look forward to welcoming him to the club."
New England gets cash considerations, the Union's natural first-round pick in the 2018 SuperDraft. The Union also get New England's natural third-round pick in the 2018 draft.
Revolution president Brian Bilello offered his take on the deal on Twitter:
The deal caps off a flurry of big moves by the Union. On Wednesday, the team signed Alejandro Bedoya and trading Sébastien Le Toux to the Colorado Rapids.
(Considering how much Stewart disliked MLS' complex roster rules when he played for D.C. United, it's impressive how quickly he has become adept at using them to his advantage.)
Davies is blessed with immense natural talent, but his career has been among the most-star crossed of any in modern American soccer. If you don't know his story, take a few minutes to learn it.
A native of Manchester, N.H., Davies turned pro in 2006 after three years at Boston College. He chose to try his luck in Europe instead of signing what would probably have been a lucrative Generation Adidas contract with Major League Soccer.
After an initial trial with Dutch powerhouse Ajax, Davies signed with Swedish club Hammarby IF - which at the time was coached by future U.S. women's national team assistant Tony Gustavsson.
Davies made his senior national team debut in a June 2007 friendly. A few weeks later, he was part of the U.S. team that played in that summer's Copa América - the last edition the Americans played in before this summer's Copa América Centenario.
Davies' career really started to take off in 2008. He scored 14 goals in 27 games for Hammarby and was part of the 2008 Olympic team that was coached by future Union manager Peter Nowak. After the Olympics, Davies scored his first senior national team goal in an October World Cup qualifier at Trinidad & Tobago.
Those strong performances earned him a transfer to French club Sochaux and a place on the 2009 Confederations Cup squad that shocked the world with a run to the final. Davies scored in the 3-0 win over Egypt that sent the Americans into the knockout stages, and partnered Jozy Altidore on the front line when the U.S. ended reigning European champion Spain's 35-game unbeaten streak.
Later that summer, Davies scored on an even bigger stage: a World Cup qualifier at Mexico's legendary Estadio Azteca. Though the U.S. lost the game 2-1, Davies' ninth-minute strike gave the Americans their first ever lead in the stadium after years of searing losses.
But two months after that epic high, Davies' life was upended forever. On October 13, he was a passenger in a horrific car crash near Washington, D.C. - where Davies was to play in the year's final World Cup qualifier the next night.
Davies suffered a fractured right tibia and femur, a fractured elbow, multiple facial fractures, a lacerated bladder and bleeding in his brain. Another passenger was killed. The driver of the car was intoxicated, and was later sentenced to two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and other charges.
The U.S. ended up playing Costa Rica to a 2-2 tie thanks to a last-minute Jonathan Bornstein goal. But most American fans don't remember the result. They remember the thunderous tribute that the crowd of 26,243 gave Davies, holding up placards with his jersey number 9 in the ninth minute of the game.
Davies wasn't able to even train again until April 26, 2010, and didn't make a gameday squad until December 19 of that year. But he didn't get back on to the field in a game until D.C. United took him on loan for the 2011 MLS season.
His United debut came as a second-half substitute in the first game of the year, against Columbus. It happened on the same RFK Stadium field he would have played on in that World Cup qualifier. And if that didn't bring enough emotion to the moment, he scored two goals:
Although Davies scored 11 goals in 26 games for D.C., the team chose to not purchase his contract after the loan ended. He understandably was not pleased. But he returned to Sochaux, and suited up for them again in February of 2012.
In the summer of 2012, Davies terminated his contract with Sochaux so he could seek other opportunities in Europe. He joined Danish club Randers, which had a history of acquiring players with ties to MLS. But he didn't score a goal in 23 appearances.
After the 2012-13 European season ended, the New England Revolution took a flier on Davies, signing him to a six-month loan in August of 2013. Randers agreed to terminate Davies' contract in early 2014, allowing him to join the Revs on a permanent basis.
Davies has been there ever since, with a record of 14 goals in 60 appearances. He hasn't always been atop the depth chart, but he has clearly been happy to be settled with the club that's closest to his home town.
Yet just when life seemed to be going well, everything was upended again. In March, Davies' wife Nina gave birth to twins three months prematurely. Then in April, he was diagnosed with liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer. The cancer news wasn't made public until this past weekend, when Davies opened up about it in an interview with Fox Sports. By then, the cancer was thankfully in remission. Davies returned to the field on Sunday in New England's loss at Orlando.
Until the announcement, no one knew outside of Davies' close circle of family and friends why he hadn't played since April 27. Most observers assumed that the Revs simply had too many other forwards - especially after the high-profile acquisition of Columbus' Kei Kamara in mid-May.
As you saw from Brian Bilello's tweets above, not many people saw the trade to Philadelphia coming. And even if you thought that the Kamara deal turned Davies into potential trade bait, the cancer news put everything in a new light.
So we come to the present. Now 30 years old, Davies is set for a new chapter in his roller-coaster career. Coincidentally, it might begin with another trip to RFK Stadium, where the Union will play D.C. United on Saturday. And it comes at the same time as the Union's acquisition of Davies' longtime friend and former Boston College roomate Alejandro Bedoya.
Davies would be the first to dismiss the storyline that anything he brings to the Union is a bonus. But if he gets on a run of form here, it will be hard to begrudge anyone who puts a little more meaning into the celebrations.
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