Breaking into any professional club set-up at the tender age of 17 is an extremely difficult feat in itself but to feature in its starting XI week in, week out is something that very few ever achieve in their playing career. In a more traditional trajectory in modern football which sees players develop at numerous youth levels before only being considered in the event of an injury to a first-team regular, absence of key players or even in pre-season friendlies, to not only be physically capable at such a young age of holding your own against players that are almost if not exactly double the age of you on the pitch alongside the psychological challenges that youngsters in the game can often face, to be competing at professional first-team level at such an age is perhaps testament to both an individual’s raw talent as well as the trust that a club manager or backroom staff are content with placing on a clearly talented individual.
It was during a 2016 MLS preseason tour where the name Alphonso Davies, at least in American Football (or Soccer, as you prefer) came then to a minor prominence in the sport. After joining the Vancouver Whitecaps in their pre-season tour ahead of the upcoming 2016 MLS season, Davies then signed ro Whitecaps FC 2 in February 2016, at this point becoming the youngest ever player to sign a USL contract three months after his 15th birthday. After making his debut for the Whitecaps FC 2 two months later, it would only be a matter of time until the young Canadian scored his first professional goal which soon came, in fact a month later at the mere of 15 and a half – quite extraordinary given both such a hot prospect’s age at the time as well as the level in which his exploits started to become noticed on a much wider scale.
Clearly it wasn’t going to be long before his potential was spotted and this time not going unnoticed, Davies was consequently named in the senior Whitecaps roster for the 2016 Canadian Championship whilst joining the club on a short-term contract. After starring both legs in their tie against Ottawa Fury in June 2016, the next natural step for a youngster with an abundance of talent was to sign a first team contract with the Whitecaps which saw Davies pen his future to the club with several options to remain until at least the 2019 or 2020 MLS season – far more than many of us reading will ever achieve in our lifetimes, let alone before your 17th birthday!
As well as being the first player born in the 2000s to have starred in a top-flight MLS match and the second youngest starter in MLS history, Davies stands out as the second youngest player to ever play in MLS behind Freddy Adu – remember him? Here’s hoping Davies career doesn’t end up like the current record holder but with all signs pointing to a long and illustrious future in the game, there’s no doubting his commitment to starring in MLS and there’s certainly no doubting his ability. At both domestic and the various international levels in which Davies has featured for Canada, the 5ft 10 winger and forward has produced numerous eye-catching performances at such a young age and the Whitecaps will most definitely be hoping he is able to for some time. And whilst his international future is perhaps less certain than his long-term future in the professional game which looks nailed on, to date Davies has starred for Canada at both U17 & U20 level, earning the accolade of Canadian U17 Male Player of the Year and even scoring at international level against Jamaica during a Canadian U17 training camp against Jamaica.
The future looks bright for the slight and quick winger with Vancouver Whitecaps once again trusting in Alphonso as they got their MLS season underway last weekend in an opening game 0-0 draw with Philadelphia Union in which Davies featured for a full 90 minutes alongside much more experienced individuals currently in the Whitecaps roster. Training alongside such a wealth of experience will inevitably aid his development and future understanding of the game whilst the confidence from those above in choosing Davies to feature in the top flight bodes well for the future and for a long term career in the sport. Nonetheless whilst nobody quite knows just what the future may hold, if Davies is able to replicate the game-time and level of performances that he was able to do during the last MLS campaign then clearly everything points to a bright future for the 16 year old. Whether that be in MLS or further afield with rumours in the past linking the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool with his signature in what is often and most likely paper talk at such a premature stage in his development, Davies undoubtedly has the potential as notable in his early flashes of brilliance to light up not only the 2017 MLS season but future ones too!
2016/17 CONCACAF Champions League Statistics:
Minutes Played: 308
Starting XI Appearances: 3
2016 MLS Season Statistics:
Minutes Played: 299
Starting XI Appearances: 2