Last year in the magazine, we profiled Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis, 32, who was then competing to win a spot on the 2014 US World Cup team. Yesterday, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann finally named the 23 lucky American heading to Brazil next month. Landon Donovan—the LA Galaxy's star forward, veteran of three World Cups, and the face of US soccer—didn't make the cut. Brad Davis did.
Unlike Donovan, Davis has never played in a World Cup, and, given his age, probably won't play in another. Two years ago, he didn't even expect to make the national team training camp, much less the World Cup squad. "I thought I was done with the national team," Davis told Houstonia last September. “It’s the utmost honor to be sitting here with the possibility of going to Brazil and representing your country in the World Cup. I mean, as a kid that’s literally what you dream about and what you aspire to. It’s why I put 12 years of work into this game.”
Despite being a six-time Major League Soccer All-Star and four-time Dynamo MVP, and despite playing for the national team in several CONCACAF Gold Cup matches, Davis was ultimately passed over for the 2000, 2004, and 2010 World Cups. What turned things around, he told me, was adopting a rigorous new diet and training regimen, overseen by his wife, a physical therapist. At 32, Davis is now fitter and faster than ever before.
Of course, just because Davis is on the US squad doesn't mean that he'll be one of the starters, or even get a chance to play as a substitute. There are seven other midfielders on the roster, including longtime US national star Michael Bradley. If he does get a chance to play, it may have to be in the first three games, since the US faces a steep climb just to make it into the playoffs. Its group includes Portugal, Germany, and Ghana—the team that dramatically knocked the US out of the 2010 World Cup in overtime in the Round of 16. Only two of those teams will advance out of the group stage.
The team's first match will take place in Natal, Brazil on June 16 at 5pm CST against their old nemesis, Ghana.