In all sports, it happens occasionally: legends and their clubs publicly part ways in a manner that has an aura of bad blood. Peyton Manning leaving the Indianapolis Colts for the Denver Broncos was one example; another could be Landon Donovan and the US national team. When it comes time for an accomplished player to leave the organization they did so much for, it tends to be a bit controversial.
But in other instances, the two sides come to a mutual agreement without all the fuss. The Houston Dynamo did exactly that when they traded 34-year old legend Brad Davis to Sporting KC. Davis, a six-time MLS All-Star and two time MLS Cup champion, has been wearing orange for the past decade after spending his first three years in the league with New York, Dallas and San Jose. The Missouri-native is third in MLS history in career regular season assists (122) and games played by a field player (368).
Davis wrote a letter to the Houston soccer community explaining his decision to move on:
At this point in my career it is time for a change, a new challenge. The opportunity came about to be able to be closer to home and it has always been a dream to play professionally in front of my family. This decision was not an easy one, but one I needed to make. At the end of the day, it was mutually agreed upon by the staff and me and I cannot thank them enough for their support. I would like to say a special thank you to Chris Canetti for his unwavering support over the years.
He also thanked the fans for their unwavering support for him and the club:
FANS!!!! I don’t even know where to begin on this. Seriously – your support has been overwhelming. We have shared so many great experiences and memories: Seeing "The Rob" (Robertson Stadium) packed with everyone waving rally towels in our first postseason appearance in 2006 as we walked out onto the field is a picture that will never leave my mind … Winning MLS Cup in back-to-back years and experiencing the passion you brought to all the playoff games … Seeing how much it meant for you fans to finally have a soccer stadium to call home … Scoring the first goal at BBVA Compass Stadium and celebrating with you was without a doubt one of my top moments … The support you gave me during the 2014 World Cup … My favorite moment however, is when I brought my oldest son Kaden out on the field after a game and he wanted to score a goal. After he scored, our supporters’ section yelled and cheered and it made him feel so special. That is who you are, and I thank you!
I can't explain enough how classy a move this is from Davis. He easily could have just said "see ya" and bolted for Kansas City, but, realizing how important Houston was to him and how important he was to Houston, Davis took the time to compose a well thought-out letter to the Dynamo and the fans. He will forever be remembered for his achievements in orange.
The Dynamo showed appreciation for him just as he did for them:
Thank you @Brad_Davis11 for 10 years of memories and service to the Dynamo and Houston community! #ForeverOrange pic.twitter.com/bGbjrz9EQv— Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamo) January 7, 2016
The move was conducted well and without any hurt feelings. While it is tough to see someone like Brad Davis go, you have to remember, it was a necessary move.
I've written plenty about where the Dynamo need to improve for next season, and one thing that keeps coming up is age. Davis was one of five players over the age of 30 in Houston's match against the Seattle Sounders on October 18th, while only Leonel Miranda was under 25. Clearly the Dynamo need to get younger, and the obvious first step to doing that is by trading Davis.
The question now arises, Who will replace Davis? Right now, it would be logical for Houston to keep Miranda on a permanent deal and start Boniek Garcia or Giles Barnes on the opposite wing. If Erick Cubo Torres isn't dealt away this offseason, Barnes would go up top and Miranda, Garcia or Andrew Wenger could start on the outside.
This transaction is solid for both parties and will impact the Dynamo in a good way. Davis gets to move closer to his hometown, Houston dumps salary, gets younger and acquires draft picks, while Sporting KC continue to improve their depth.
Davis and the Dynamo parted ways without the drama, a fitting end to a great tenure.