Alphonso Davies has already broken several records during his relatively short career. The 19-year old was the first player born in the 2000s to play in Major League Soccer, as well as being the youngest-ever player to represent Canada on the international stage. Furthermore, he was the youngest player to score in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, bagging a brace for the Reds back in 2017. Not bad for a man who was playing second-tier football in the USL just four years ago.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 25, 2020
After catching the eye in a struggling Vancouver Whitecaps side, the Buduburam-born left-back suddenly become one of the most sought-after players in the world. Despite interest from the Premier League, it was Bundesliga behemoths Bayern Munich who eventually won the battle for his signature.
Davies was eased in gently and was given time to acclimatise to his new surroundings in Bavaria. He made his debut in the Telekom Cup and made just six appearances during his first season at the club. However, the 2019-20 campaign has seen him flourish, and his three goals and four assists were enough to see him crowned Rookie of the Year.
He has been a mainstay of the side, despite some early season changes in the dugout, and appears have benefited from working under former midfielder Hansi Flick. Club president Herbert Hainer has described the speedster as “world-class”, with former US international Stuart Holden, a regular pundit for Major League Soccer, also echoing those thoughts.
With a full season under his belt, the general consensus appears to be that his progress is only likely to continue. Playing alongside several established internationals will undoubtedly help his development, and although Bayern have strolled to the Bundesliga title in recent years, increased competition from the likes of Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, and Borussia Monchengladbach has resulted in FCB being unable to take their foot off the gas. As a result, the club have been forced to maintain their extremely high standards throughout the entire campaign, and this will surely help the long-term progress of younger squad members.
His former boss Carl Robinson has tipped him to become a ‘Bayern Legend’, and fans are looking forward to seeing the pacey full-back continue his development next season. With David Alaba moved inside to accommodate the Canadian, he has certainly made the position his own and having featured on 42 occasions this campaign, he is unlikely to be displaced anytime soon.
Two years ago today, Bayern Munich signed Alphonso Davies.
The 19-year-old's journey to the top is inspiring 🙌 pic.twitter.com/nWMaTbVjdf
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 25, 2020
The Bayern Munich left-back is one of several North American players currently plying their trade in the Bundesliga, with Tyler Adams, Gio Reyna, and Weston McKinnie all featuring semi-regularly in the German top tier. Christian Pulisic, now at Chelsea, also made his breakthrough a couple of seasons ago.
Davies is unlikely to be the last player to make the switch from Major League Soccer, and with many franchises now endeavouring to develop their own talent, as opposed to recruiting high-profile ageing European stars, it could become a well-trodden path over the next decade. Interest in the sport has also increased, with the formation of David Beckham’s Inter Miami helping to create worldwide awareness of the competition.
Regular eSports tournaments involving top MLS players, community engagement, and increased TV coverage has helped the brand to establish itself over the last couple of seasons. Although it falls someway short of both NFL and NBA, sports fans have slowly gravitated towards the league, and with a number of established soccer betting sites also taking regular wagers on Major League Soccer, interest appears to be at an all-time high. This will surely benefit player development, with franchises understandably keen to stock their academies and B teams with potential future stars of the game.
Whilst, not every home-grown MLS star is likely to follow in the footsteps of Alphonso Davies, the former Whitecaps defender has certainly set an achievable blueprint. With his development expected to continue next season, soccer fans are looking forward to seeing the 19-year old grow in stature and build upon his hugely successful first full season at the Allianz Arena.