Will 15-year-old Alphonso Davies be a bust, or will he become a bona fide prodigy?
The Next Big Thing. It’s something every sport has. Putting lofty expectations on a young man or woman, unsure whether they will crumble under that pressure, or become the star experts projected them to be. For every LeBron James and Bryce Harper, heralded future megastars who met their potential, there is a Kwame Brown or Matt Bush, players who were tagged with similar incredible forecasts, but failed to reach even mediocre levels.
Major League Soccer’s best example of this was Freddy Adu. Deemed the next Pele by the time he signed with DC United at age 14, Adu could never be what people wanted him to be. He had a decent MLS career, twice a league all-star, but someone with “The Next Big Thing” label on them, he was largely considered a disappointment. Since his time with DC United, he has bounced around the globe, now back in America, playing for the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies.
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Fast forward to 2016. 15-year-old Alphonso Davies signs with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, after participating in their residency program. The youngster was born in Liberia, but was raised in Edmonton, Alberta. He has spent most of the season in the USL, becoming the youngest player in the league’s history to score a goal, when he found the net in May for Whitecaps FC 2.
Davies is one of four finalists for USL Midseason Rookie of the Year. He has only appeared in 8 USL league games, but that is not due to lack of form. Instead, he’s played for Canada’s U-20 club, as well as playing for the Whitecaps first team in their Amway Canadian Championship campaign.
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He has received rave reviews, and has never looked overmatched on the pitch, no matter what club he’s playing for, or against. He’s listed at 5’10” and will continue to add weight to his currently lanky frame. He has great pace, and is very willing to apply pressure defensively. Unlike Adu, he has a great opportunity to hone his skills in a lower league, before having to test his mettle full-time in the MLS.
The Whitecaps organization is excited about this young man with seemingly limitless potential, but as enthusiastic they are, they will be equally as cautious to allow him to grow at his own pace. I think with the Whitecaps approach of pushing him, but not overwhelming him, Davies will end up closer to a LeBron than Kwame.