VANCOUVER, BC – “Be humble. Keep working.”
Those are the words Alphonso Davies has lived by for as long as he can remember.
They came from his mom. She told him to always keep a level head. She told him not to show off. And she told him to work hard. That's what he’s been doing – and it’s starting to pay off.
Davies, who has been training with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC first team this preseason, signed his first professional contract today with WFC2 – the club’s United Soccer League team.
He’s only 15 years old. That’s right: 15.
“It’s really exciting,” said Davies, who becomes the youngest player in the USL. “It’s another step for me to get to where I want. I’m really happy that my family and I made the choice to come down here.”
Davies grew up in Liberia, a country on the West African coast, before fleeing the civil war and moving to Ghana with his family. Then, when he was five years old, they moved to Ontario.
“Where we were living before, there were no opportunities for me and my family to be something,” said Davies, who has five siblings. “So we moved here to get a better life.”
Davies said he started to play soccer a bit when he was in Ontario, but it wasn’t until he moved to Edmonton a few years later that he really developed a love for the game.
“People started telling me, Alphonso, if you keep working you could become something,” he recalled. “So I kept going at it.”
The first club he played at was Edmonton Internationals. Then, he moved to Edmonton Strikers and things “just got better and better.” He gives Strikers coach Nick Housef a lot of credit for that. Finally, in August of last year, Davies moved even further West to join the Whitecaps FC Residency program.
Turns out the Residency staff had been tracking him for almost two years before he joined the club. The left-footed forward attended three separate trials/training stints with the ‘Caps.
They liked what they saw.
“Alphonso has tremendous success in one-v-one attacking situations, he is intelligent and able to use his physical assets to maximum effect,” said Whitecaps FC Residency technical director Craig Dalrymple, adding that Davies plays with a smile and has an infectious personality. “He has adapted extremely quickly to the full-time environment and demonstrated that he is ready for the challenges of the USL environment, even as a 15 year old.”
That’s why the ‘Caps brought him into first-team training camp. He admits it was “very intimidating” at first. After all, he’s the youngest player there by two years.
But then Pa-Modou Kah broke the ice with some travel day shenanigans on the team's trip to Tucson. Day by day, he started to get more comfortable. And on February 3, Carl Robinson threw him into a game as a second half sub against Seattle Sounders FC.
It didn’t get off to a great start.
Shortly after entering the match, Davies took an elbow to the face that left him with a bloody mouth.
“Darren Mattocks stood up for me,” Davies said. “I really liked that a lot.”
So did Kah. So did Robinson. So did WFC2 assistant coach Steve Meadley. So did veteran goalkeeper David Ousted after the game. They all did.
“That made me feel like they have my back and they’re my family,” Davies said.
Davies ended up playing in all three of Vancouver's preseason matches in Tucson. In their finale against Houston Dynamo, he even set up Marco Bustos for the game-winner.
For his efforts, Davies was also invited to join the team in Portland, where he is now.
Being around the first team has been an “eye-opening” experience for Davies. On the one hand, it has showed him that he still has so much to learn. He knows he needs to be better off the ball. He knows he needs to make quicker decisions. And he knows he needs to improve his right foot.
On the other hand, it has showed him that he can be “on the same page” with such top players.
And that motivates him even more.
There’s a long road ahead – no doubt. But no matter what happens, rest assured that Davies will be humble, and keep working.
This year, every Tier 1 ‘Caps Club MLS membership includes three open tickets to WFC2 matches. More information on how to select your WFC2 matches will be sent out with your Tier 1 MLS membership packages. All ‘Caps Club Members can upgrade to the full WFC2 season for only $7 per month over 12 months, while Youth can get WFC2 season tickets for $2 per match.
Tier 2 season ticket memberships are also now available, while single match and group tickets will be available in March. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-484-7862.