Earlier this week, Davis announced that he will retire at the end of this season.
As Davis and Sporting KC get ready to square off against Seattle Sounders in the playoffs, it’s important to look back on the incredible career of the Houston Dynamo great. It could be his final game (though he and the club hope for more), his last chance to pad an already incredible resume.
His accomplishments are many as he won respect of teammates and opponents across the league during his 15 year career. As he looks for one more championship with Sporting KC, he’ll go down as one of the absolute best in MLS’ history.
He’s won championships, All-Star accolades, MVP runner up, Best XI and even a World Cup appearance. But this isn’t about the endless amount of achievements he has earned (so far). This is about his other accomplishments. About the standards he set for himself and others that earned him the captain’s armband after his team mate, and fellow Dynamo legend, Brian Ching retired.
When the Dynamo came to Houston, Davis was already one of the league’s best left-footed players, capable of dropping his crosses on a dime. His role with the team was to stay wide and keep the service coming while also being dangerous on set pieces. Even though he was quite successful in doing this, there was always another level that he could achieve but didn’t during those first few years.
It wasn’t until around the 2010 World Cup that he decided to elevate his game and change the way he played.
Instead of being an effective 65 or 70 minute player, Davis devoted his time to increasing his stamina and strength while focusing on his passing abilities. As the season wore on, Dominic Kinnear started having Davis cut into the middle to overwhelm defenders. His passing helped find the feet of strikers to great effect. Without a natural attacking midfielder in the lineup, Davis started to fill that role.
Another thing that changed in his game was his ability to play on the right flank. He adapted his style to cause havoc amongst defenders who weren’t used to the left-footed brilliance of Davis going up against him. When fullbacks were forced to track him towards the middle, that was when Brad found an overlapping team mate who was wide open.
All of a sudden the Dynamo had another tool in the attack that they never had and is no small part of their ability to get to MLS Cup in 2011 and 2012.
Here is a player who changed his game, his style of play, and his fitness to make him the best player he could be. And not at the age of 19 or 21 to get into a first team roster. He did this at 30. That takes a level of maturity, professionalism and commitment that is rare. All of Davis’ work was well rewarded with back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships, MLS MVP runner-up and five straight All-Star nods, as well as Best XI.
Even Jurgen Klinsmann, he who spouts little respect for MLS, was impressed by Davis and named him to his 2014 World Cup squad where he started against Germany in the final group stage match.
Demanding so much for himself, setting an example for team mates, especially of the younger variety, was but one reason why he was given the captain’s armband.
Brad has been a consummate professional for Houston and can easily be listed as one of the club’s all time greats. Whatever happens with Sporting KC this year in the playoffs, he’ll go down as one of the highlights of this young league and a model for every player to live up to.
We’ll miss seeing Davis on the field and hope to see him at a few games whenever he is in town. Tickets are most definitely on us.