The celebratory mood in the U.S. national team camp on the eve of Wednesday's World Cup 2010 qualifying finale against Costa Rica was extinguished in the middle of Tuesday with the news that Charlie Davies, who played an instrumental role in Saturday's 3-2 win over Honduras that clinched a berth in the World Cup finals, was seriously injured in a one-car accident at 3:15 a.m. in which a young woman was killed. After being airlifted to Washington Hospital Center, Davies underwent several hours of surgery and was in serious but stable condition with a lacerated bladder, fractures to the tibia and femur bones in his right leg, facial fractures and a fracture of his left elbow. He faces additional surgeries and extensive rehabilitation during a recovery period of six to 12 months.
"Due to Charlie's fitness level, his prognosis for recovery and his ability to resume high-level competition is substantially improved," said U.S. Soccer physician Dr. Dan Kalbac, who is with the national team in Washington and collaborated with the treating doctors.
The accident, which took place in Northern Virginia, apparently occurred when the car (photo) with three occupants hit a railing and was torn in half, according to police. The accident caused southbound George Washington Parkway south of the Memorial Bridge to be closed for five hours.
Ashley J. Roberta, 22, of Phoenix, Md., died on the scene. The identity of the third occupant, also hospitalized, was not known. No other U.S. players were in the car. They learned of the accident late in the morning. Davies' absence from breakfast was not of a concern since it was not mandatory.
"Obviously, as a team we were saddened to learn this news," said U.S. coach Bob Bradley. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Charlie and his family, as well as the people in the car and the families of the others involved. As a team, we are relying on each other in a moment that has for sure hit us all hard."
Davies' insertion in the lineup has arguably been the most important factor in the elevation of the USA's play this year -- at the Confederations Cup, where it finished second, and in World Cup qualifying, where he scored in the 2-1 loss at Mexico and started the subsequent three games, all wins. His pace and determination in the role of the second forward allowed Landon Donovan to move back into midfield where Donovan has enjoyed arguably his best run with the national team.
Davies, a former New England prep wrestling star, started the third game at the Confederations Cup in South Africa and scored the first of the three goals the USA needed to advance to the semifinals with its 3-0 victory over Egypt. He set up Donovan for the second goal in the 3-2 loss to Brazil in the final.
Davies started and played 78 minutes in the USA's 3-2 victory over Honduras in San Pedro Sula. He helped set up the tying and go-ahead goals against the Catrachos, demonstrating his versatility. He won a header on a long ball from Oguchi Onyewu into the penalty area and flicked it on to Conor Casey, who beat Honduran goalie Noel Valladares to the ball for the tying goal. He then showed himself on the left wing to take Onyewu's outlet pass, and he quickly passed the ball ahead to Donovan, whose through ball put Casey in along on Valladares. Davies has played 17 matches for the USA while scoring four goals.
Davies participated in qualifying for the 2005 Under-20 World Cup but did not take part in the finals. He was a reserve on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and scored in the final group game, a 2-1 loss to Nigeria that knocked the Americans out of the tournament.
Davies grew up in Manchester, N.H., and attended Brooks School in Massachusetts. He starred as a wrestler at Brooks but also excelled at soccer, a sport he was introduced to by his Gambian father. Davies played three seasons at Boston College, recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him for all but one game in 2005.
MLS was prepared to give Davies a five-year contract worth more than $1 million after the 2006 season, but he signed with Swedish club Hammarby. After two-plus seasons in Sweden, where he scored 21 goals in 56 games, Hammarby sold Davies to French club Sochaux this summer in a deal value in excess of $1 million. Davies got off to a sensational start at Sochaux, ranking as the highest-rated player in France Football's star ratings after three games, but he cooled off after his return to France from the September double-fixture dates against El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago.
For more on Charlie Davies' career: The Rise of Charlie Davies
From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center:
STATEMENT FROM THE FAMILY OF U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM FORWARD CHARLIE DAVIES
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 14, 2009) – In light of yesterday's car accident involving Charlie Davies, the Davies family would like to extend their sincere thanks
to everyone for their thoughts, messages and prayers. The tremendous support the family has received is of great comfort and much appreciated at this difficult time. Our thoughts also go out to the families and friends of those involved in the accident.
We would also like to thank all the staff at Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C. and the staff at the United States Soccer Federation for all their tremendous efforts.
Charlie is in a serious but stable condition and is resting after extensive surgery. If you would like to send any messages of support to Charlie we have set up an e-mail account at CharlieDavies9@yahoo.com.
Thank you again and we will keep you informed when possible as Charlie continues his recovery.