Brad Davis was traded to Sporting Kansas City but it was the Dynamo midfielder's choice to go to his rival. Typically, when veteran players move teams there is usually a short list of possible reasons, more money, bigger club, better visibility, that sort of thing. Davis made it clear there were two reasons.
One of those reasons is family. Davis grew up across the state from Sporting Kansas City and he still has a lot of family in the St. Louis area. A large contingent of family and friends were always at Sporting Park whenever the Dynamo were in town as evidenced by a block of orange in the normally very blue stands.
For Davis, getting closer to home and giving his family a chance to come see him play more often, just a three plus hour drive away instead of plane flight was important. "It will be a homecoming, lots of friends and family can watch me play," Davis explained in the press conference.
The second reason - A competitive team now
Being 34 and with just a year left on his contract, it sounds like Davis wants to be on a team that has a chance to win it all again, this year.
"It wasn't just going to be a decision to come back, it was going to be with a competitive team," Davis pointed out. "The big thing is, I am able to go back and play in front of my family and stuff like that but by no means is this the only reason. Sporting KC is a great organization, they have a great team, have a winning pedigree, they have great players on the team right now and I am joining a team that is going to be extremely competitive this year and that is what I am looking at. The family is definitely a part of it but also looking at the team and the organization and moving forward this puts me in a very good position to be successful as well." The bolded words are Brad's emphasis as he spoke.
Houston finished in eighth place in the West and out of the playoffs last season and while they are rebuilding will likely not make a deep run in 2016. Sporting KC finished sixth and have added Justin Mapp and now Davis for depth and loads of experience.
Moving to a rival is never easy
It's is never easy moving to a new club and for Davis it will be especially difficult. He was part of the San Jose squad that relocated and rebranded to Houston where he has been since 2006. Over a decade with one team is not very common anymore and memories and loyalties run deep. Add in the fact that Davis has been the captain of the team and so involved in the community and it is easy to see how hard of a choice it was to move.
"In all honesty it's been difficult. Trying to let this settle in it's been a bunch of mixed emotions obviously," Davis admitted. "Leaving a place that has meant so much to me and my family has been a very difficult moment for us but on the other hand we are excited for a new chapter, a new challenge going to a very good organization in Sporting KC. Emotionally it's been on both sides of the fence. It's been difficult and exciting at the same time."
Houston (and Davis specifically among others) have had some very gritty matches with Sporting Kansas City over the last few years. The Dynamo was the hurdle that Sporting KC needed to get past to advance and eventually win the MLS Cup. The Dynamo were spoilers for two years before that.
Sporting KC was able to get past them and also get some bragging rights when they handed the Dynamo their first home loss at BBVA Compass Stadium. Throw in countless hard tackles, elbows and even a punch or two and it is pretty clear that Houston and Sporting Kansas City have been fairly serious rivals.
Davis didn't deny any of that but did point out that was on the field stuff. "I am a guy that is really passionate on the field if you know me off the field I am a pretty laid back guy, that stuff doesn't bother me whatsoever. I just take it as guys competing and wanting to win. I'm on one side and they're on the other but it's just two teams competing and wanting to win and doing whatever it takes at that moment," Davis explained.
Brad did jokingly add, "I might have to walk in the locker room the first day with a set of boxing gear on."
What took place on the field between the two rivals shows Davis how much both teams wanted to win. "I'm fine with it, it actually set a good example for me because it's just guys competing and wanting to win and that is a group I want to be part of."
Finding his place on Sporting KC
Davis has been the Dynamo captain, a six time MLS All Star and is a World Cup veteran. None of that means he is guaranteed a starting spot on an already crowded and talented team. Davis realizes that and knows he will need to work for a spot. "I am going there and working hard and earning the respect of my teammates and doing whatever I can to contribute to the team."
"That (a place in the lineup)will sort itself out in training camp. I've always went in there with the mentality that you have to earn a spot," Davis continued. "By no means do I feel I am going to be given a spot. Nobody should feel like that. You go in with the mindset of working hard and earning your spot within the team, wherever that might be."