Only time will tell what impact Charlie Davies will have on the United States national team when they take the field in 2011 and beyond.
The striker is in France with his club side Sochaux, continuing to rehab from the October car accident that left one young woman dead and the striker in critical condition. According to reports from a French radio show, Davies is "still very far from achieving his level."
That's the disappointing reality for a talented player who had aspirations of making the World Cup squad. Now, four months after Bob Bradley left an unready Davies off the roster, the 24-year-old is simply hoping to find the field.
He will succeed, but no one knows if the electrifying qualities that excited the American coaching staff and gave US supporters hope will come back as well. There's at least a possibility that Davies has already taken part in the most important games he'll play while wearing a Red, White and Blue uniform.
His importance off the field, however, will only grow.
Davies, one of the most-liked guys in the players' pool, serves as a constant reminder to the entire American soccer program: Talent is fragile; its successful application fleeting. One late night, Davies had it; the next, it was gone.
The former Boston College Eagle took responsibility for his actions – he was breaking curfew the night the car he was riding in crashed – and is determined to fight his way back. He's battling hard and, deservedly, has the support of his teammates, friends and fiancée, Nina.
This tale isn't a heavy-handed lesson in morality; it's a sad saga with an ending that's still very much in doubt.
Here's hoping he returns to the player he once was (or better). But even if he doesn't, his mere presence will continue to play a vital role.