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Michael Lewis

May 12, 2010
OFFSIDE REMARKS
Bradley made the decision for the team, not for Davies or the fans

By Michael Lewis
BigAppleSoccer.com Editor

When discussing his philosophy of selecting a 23-man roster for the World Cup with a select group of writers in New York two weeks ago, one quote by U.S. national coach Bob Bradley summed it up best.

"At the end of the day, decisions are made for the team," he said.

Let's repeat part of that: "decisions are made for the team."

The decision not to bring in Charlie Davies to World Cup prep camp on Tuesday obviously rankled many fans, who vented their anger on many message boards and blogs the past 24 hours or so. Bradley was blamed, and unfairly blamed.

Perhaps fans hopes were boosted by Daviesí ever-optimistic attitude and his quick recuperation and tremendous desire. Perhaps some media fueled those great expectations by not being realistic (many out there still have to learn that there is a fine line on the internet between proper reporting and having an opinion and even distorting the news).

Iíve known Bob Bradley for years and he is a pragmatist, not a sentimentalist.

Don't get me wrong. Bradley would have loved to been in a position to bring Davies in, have him earn a spot on the roster and then become a hero in South Africa.

That might work in reel life with a Hollywood ending, but in real life, it, unfortunately doesn't.

Davies, who has made a miraculous recovery from several severe injuries suffered in a near-fatal car accident last October, has even surprised yours truly with his comeback.

Obviously, Davies is not ready for competition. If he had been, his French club, Sochaux, would have given him the green light. The club didn't and Bradley, who has a staff of coaches and trainers that monitors the National Team, came to the decision that Davies wasn't ready for the highest level of competition that National Team soccer can offer.

Just remember these few things:

* The World Cup, however flawed it has become with European club soccer grabbing a good chunk of the spotlight and money over recent years, is still light years ahead of league competition in terms of pace ..... One misstep, one mistake, one bad decision could mean the difference between winning and losing or tying or losing and a spot in the second round. Teams cannot afford to come in less than full strength.

* Davies, who has returned to full-time training with Sochaux, hasn't played in a competitive match since October. World Cup training camps traditionally aren't used for players to up their levels and prove themselves. There is a huge difference between being fit, match fit -- physically and mentally -- and being World Cup fit. Players need games -- competitive games -- to show he is playing at a top level and convince his coach that he should be in camp, let alone be on the team. "The final steps are the hardest steps," Bradley said "We still need to see where that goes."

There is no doubt that Davies will be sorely missed by the team. During last year's FIFA Confederations Cup and the latter stages of World Cup qualifying, he added a dimension to the team it had sorely lacked -- speed and a scoring touch that stretched opposing defenses and opened up room for forward Jozy Altidore and midfielders such as Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.

Two weeks ago Bradley indicated he would make his decision based on contributions to the squad, not sentimental. He realized that Davies is popular with his teammates and the fans had rallied behind him during his recovery period.

"At the end of the day, decisions are made for the team," he said.

This one was for the team.

   
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