There’s a different level of confidence around Justin Davis than there had been at this time last year.
Now in his seventh year with the organization, the veteran left back has seen a lot. From winning a title with the Stars to fighting in the NASL Soccer Bowl Playoffs, Davis had done his time in the second division. He was successful, earning three NASL Best XI nods, but in interviews he seemed ready to for a new challenge.
In that way, last Friday’s debut was a nice change of pace. And, to his credit, Davis feels that he held his own.
How can Davis and Minnesota be able to bounce back from an opening defeat? Check the tape in our weekly Rewind That column.
“It’s tough to draw positives from a result like that, but it is what it is,” the Loons’ vice-captain reflected at the team’s training on Wednesday. “There’s stuff I want to get better with, but I didn’t feel overmatched out there. Portland has a pretty good attacking lineup so I was able to do pretty well against [Sebastián] Blanco. He had one assist, but I thought I did pretty well. I felt comfortable on the ball.”
“Defensively, I’ve got to get a little sharper. Attackers will take advantage of that, which is a difference from the NASL.”
Specifically, Davis’ last comments were in reaction to a headed backpass in the 30th minute. When asked about the play, Davis instantly remembers it well. “Should probably avoid making those in the future,” he deadpaned. Beyond that, Davis saw a few other differences in his first MLS action.
“Portland has one of the best atmospheres in the league. When the whistle blows, it’s just another game. I feel like I connected well with passes. I wasn’t overwhelmed, which was a positive to take away.”
Known for his well-executed sliding tackles, Davis was able to keep Designated Player Blanco at bay for most of last Friday’s match. He’ll need to stay sharp as the season progresses, as there is plenty of talent among MLS right wingers. The Loons’ next few opponents roster the likes of, in order, Hector Villalba, Shkëlzen Gashi, and Juan Agudelo.
And its Davis that will likely be tasked with marking these talented attackers. At this point, he’s up for the challenge.
“I’ve learned that you’re typically going against some of their top players if you’re a left back,” Davis asserted. “It seems like the big-named players like to play wide right. If it’s gonna be Blanco, the guys from Atlanta, I’ve just gotta get used to it. It’s gonna happen every week; I’ve got my hands full.”
The only NASL holdover to crack the starting XI against Portland, Davis looks poised to see further action in the coming weeks. As Minnesota looks to get its first result in the league, Davis’ consistency will be a major influence on the results.
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