Please don't misunderstand. The Charlie Davies signing is exciting. Where previously I had reconciled myself to not seeing a number of the D.C. United games, I am now trying to figure out how to wrangle the funds together to see them all. That said, Charlie Davies is not the answer.
What is "Leg?"
If "Charlie Davies is not the answer," then I should probably define the question. The problem is that D.C. United is rebuilding. The D.C. attack has suffered for the past three years as Jaime aged, Gomez left and aged, and Emilio. . . I don't know, discovered a love of hot dogs? Although D.C. is a young team, it has no returning strikers from last season. They have no homegrown or young strikers that are on-going projects that will yield returns in seasons to come. In every other position, D.C. has young and promising players and/or "project players" learning the in background, but D.C.'s projected starting strikers are has-beens, never-weres, and Charlie Davies (a might-be). McCarty and Najar are promising goal threats, but they both have historically played out of the midfield. A potent midfield offense is probably essential, but also insufficient.
Davies Could Be Big, Big, Big, Big Bugs
Yes, that's a They Might Be Giants reference up there; you can judge me, it's fine. Davies might be the real deal; he could be a giant in this league. The problem, as I see it, is if he is good, he's not going to want to stick around - he's had his foot into the European game and will want to return. If European teams don't want Davies, it will probably because he has not recovered from his injuries and is not the player that he was. It is possible that there may be a happy medium in which he is a decent-enough MLS striker, but isn't good enough for a European club. More likely, he will either be too good to stay or not good enough to do the same. So, the team should probably assume that he is not going to be around for the 2012 season and D.C. is back to be looking for a reliable scoring option at forward again.
I am not saying that D.C. should not have signed Davies. Not signing him would have been a mistake. But D.C. needs options behind him to rise through the ranks and try to fill his shoes in the next season. D.C. needs a striker to learn from Davies and to learn the trade while Davies shoulders the majority of the goal-scoring burden. Davies himself would be perfect if D.C. were still looking to advance in the CCL. Because he is most likely a one-year deal, Davies is a perk, a crowd pleaser, icing on D.C.'s rebuilt cake.
It may be that United will pick up another striker to fill the role I have described, but I see that as increasingly unlikely. Fear not, however, as there are pre-existing options. Rookie draft pick Blake Brettschneider is getting a look from Olsen and the staff. He scored a couple of times in the most recent pre-season game, but predicting future performance from pre-season games is something akin to Santeria. Nevertheless, he is a potential option. Also, D.C. has two young and promising players in Pontius and Najar who have, at times, played as forwards. While both have spent considerable time playing on the wings, D.C. has a relative surplus of talent on the wings and just signed another winger in Fred. To me, this indicates that one, if not both, of them will be considered a striker and spend most of their time on the pitch as a forward. If I am correct, then I my guess is that it will be at least Pontius. Whether a new signing or a young existing player, Wolff, Ngwenya, and Davies should not be accepted by the Black-and-Red faithful as D.C.'s primary strikers this year or D.C. is going to be back to square-one when it comes to scoring in 2012.
*An Aside - I am watching this Olimpique Marseille - Manchester United Champions' League game and I have to say - OM's third/Champions' League kits last year were absolutely bad ass. I know that the teams want their supporters to buy new merchandise every year (see: D.C. United's third jersey), but they really should have kept last year's jersey.