Charlie Davies is finally coming to the end of a hectic summer. Between 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, as well as completing his transfer from Hammarby to Sochaux and beginning the new Ligue 1 season, the 23-year-old USA striker has hardly had a moment to sit down and relax.
Despite his busy schedule, Davies did not hesitate for a second when FIFA.com requested an interview squeezed in between two training sessions. After an SMS to set up the meeting, the refreshingly relaxed youngster was able to let his carefree manner shine through.
FIFA.com: Charlie, how are you adapting to life in Ligue 1?
Charlie Davies: For the moment, everything's going great. I'm very happy at Sochaux. I can't wait to be 100 per cent so I can help the team more. I know it's going to take a bit of time and, in particular, I'll have to master the language. I've started taking lessons now, actually. I'll be right at home in a few weeks.
You are still being treated with caution by your coach. How are you finding watching matches from the bench?
I'd be lying if I said I like it. But I understand the coach. I haven't even spent a month with this squad yet. It's normal that the players who worked hard together during pre-season are getting more playing time.
Nevertheless, it did not take you long to score your first double, against Bordeaux in only your second appearance.
What an incredible moment! Against the reigning French champions as well. We were in a lot of trouble (losing 2-0) and I was simmering on the touchline. I wanted to show what I could do. When I came on, I told myself I had absolutely nothing to lose and I threw myself at every ball. It's a shame that those two goals weren't enough for us to avoid defeat.
I'd be lying if I said I like it. But I understand the coach. I haven't even spent a month with this squad yet.
You moved from a club based in a suburb of Stockholm, not an especially common destination for American footballers. Tell us a bit about your life there?
I look back on it as an extraordinary experience, but a very difficult one. I came here young and pretty much frail. It wasn't easy adapting to such a physical league. In Sweden, lots of teams play with just one forward and resort to long balls. Hammarby were no exception to the rule and I can assure you that finding yourself alone every Saturday in the middle of a group of defenders built like tanks toughens you up. The style of play in Ligue 1 is more suited to my qualities. Here, teams move forward quicker, with more counter-attacks along the ground.
Another advantage of your Swedish experience is that you must be used to cold winters by now. Do you know what Sochaux will be like in a few months?
Carlos Bocanegra (United States captain and Rennes player) told me about that. He said that last year he played a French Cup match in January here at the Stade Bonal and the temperature was way below zero. Apparently, the pitch was completely frozen. In fact, I can't wait to see what it'll be like because the Swedish championship has a delayed calendar so I've never actually played in conditions like that. It must be fun.
More seriously, you are coming to the end of a busy summer, especially with the FIFA Confederations Cup, which helped you earn your stripes as a starter in the United States team. How have you found that change of status?
Very good, of course. It's what I always dreamed about. When Bob Bradley gave me that chance, I didn't hesitate to show him the best that I can do. What I couldn't afford to do was turn all shy. This new situation gives me even more goals to reach. I now hope to keep my place in the starting 11 for a long time, play in the World Cup and become a crucial player.
It is easy to imagine you keeping a few mementos from South Africa.
It's true that I've kept the boots that I scored against Egypt with, and also a shirt signed by all my team-mates.
We're our own main opponents right now. We need to clinch our return to South Africa as soon as possible.
Less than two months later, you opened the scoring in the most intense derby in the CONCACAF region, against Mexico.
Without a doubt, that will always be one of the greatest moments of my international career. For an American, to score in the Azteca stadium is a dream. I played that game like I would if I was taking on anyone else, anywhere. And my performance will surely help me progress even faster.
You approach the end of the qualifiers for the FIFA 2010 World Cup in a fairly comfortable position and with some winnable games coming up. Is that not a dangerous situation in some ways?
You're right, we're our own main opponents right now. We need to clinch our return to South Africa as soon as possible. There's confidence within the squad but we mustn't get too confident.
What will be the key to success?
To tell ourselves that our next four matches will be more difficult than the last 14. The mentality we had during the Confederations Cup was the right one. It's up to us to give everything we can every time we go out on the pitch. It doesn't matter who we're playing, we need to concentrate above all on our own play.