MLS Moves: 'Caps sign 15-year-old Davies

The Vancouver Whitecaps have signed 15-year-old midfielder Alphonso Davies to a multi-year MLS Homegrown Player contract. Davies, who was born in Liberia and moved to Canada at age 5, debuted a day later in the Whitecaps' 2-2 tie with Orlando City,  becoming the second youngest player to play in MLS history after Freddy Adu.

MLS's Youngest Players:
14 Freddy Adu (D.C. United,  2004)
15 Alphonso Davies (Vancouver, 2016)
16 Diego Fagundez (New England, 2011)
16 Nikolas Besagno (Real Salt Lake, 2005)
16 Eddie Gaven (MetroStars, 2003)
16 Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia, 2011)
16 Craig Capano (Chicago, 2002)
16 Jozy Altidore (NY Red Bulls, 2006)
16 Jack McBean (LA Galaxy, 2011)
16 Rodrigo Lopez (Chivas, 2006)

Davies joined the Whitecaps' residency program in 2015. In February, he started playing for the Whitecaps' USL team and in May became the youngest player to score a goal in USL history.

"Alphonso is a bright young player who has earned this opportunity," said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. "He still has a lot of hard work ahead of him, but at this point in time we felt this was the best move for his development and for the club. This is another great example of our player pathway and we hope he will be the first of many WFC2 [Whitecaps FC 2] players to make the next step."

Davies is the youngest player on a current MLS roster and the third youngest player, at  15 years and 256 days, ever to sign an MLS contract after Freddy Adu and Nik Besagno.

“This is a dream come true,” said Davies. “I’ve grown so much since joining the Residency program last year, and have continued to learn from the first-team players and coaching staff. Coming to Vancouver was the best decision of my life. I’m so thankful to the club for having faith in me and I can’t wait to get started in MLS.”

6 comments about "MLS Moves: 'Caps sign 15-year-old Davies".
  1. don Lamb, July 16, 2016 at 10:14 a.m.

    AA - what is it that MLS is not doing? Still at the very beginning of these signings, but they will become more and more common.

  2. don Lamb, July 17, 2016 at 11:36 p.m.

    Please... This kid already had 3 games under his belt in cup games. He'll get time. NYRB products are getting time. Dallas products are getting lots of minutes. Seattle is playing their academy products. LA continues to be a leader with their youth set up. Orlando is giving minutes to teenagers. DC and Philly, among others, have residency programs. The Carleton signing in ATL is huge. There are lots of young players playing, and that trend is going to accelerate quickly as MLS academies really start to take shape. But go on and keep complaining about everything relating to youth development in MLS and the US...

  3. Ronnie Grant, July 18, 2016 at 7:53 p.m.

    AA, really? I think you're missing the objective. The difference now is if a U16 or U18 isn't consistently in the senior team's 18 he can be loaned to to the USL side for playing time. Much like Pulisic with Dortmund. So yes, you're most likely correct. Maybe it was a publicity stunt. But now U18s (U16 in this case) can be loaned out and play in the USL.

    Maybe your point is what happens if he isn't on the field--or in the 18--for Vancouver's USL team? Where does he play then?

    Atlanta is locking players up for next year and loaning them to other clubs to play through the end of the year. Whether Carleton, or the kid from Ghana, plays for Charleston is the question. Not that they signed them.

    Your complaint should be that there isn't a USL entrant for every MLS team and they all don't have a U18/17, U16/15, U14, U13 academy set-up (NYC). Atlanta should have a USL team at this point.

  4. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, July 20, 2016 at 10:25 a.m.

    I don't agree with that. MLS academies are still in their infancy but they've already begun to produce players for their first teams. Dallas is the best example. RBNY developed Miazga and just sold him for $5m because he wanted to go abroad. They recently gave a 16 year old (Tyler Adams) his first team debut and he'd probably have more appearances except for the fact he plays a position (central midfield) where the first team is loaded at the moment. You have to be patient - countries where they have great developmental infrastructure didn't build it over night.

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, July 20, 2016 at 6:51 p.m.

    What are you talking about? He's from NY and is playing for his local club who have developed him for several years now. MLS is supposed to just ship him somewhere else so he can play right away? What kind of mickey mouse way is that to run a league. Tyler just turned 17 and he will be in the first team soon. No doubt he would have made appearances during the Red Bulls busy run of games in the last month but he was injured on U-18 national team duty.

    So you go on and on about making sure the incentives are there for player development but you also want MLS to take homegrown players off a team if they aren't getting enough playing time by age 17? Bizarre - sounds like you're complaining just for the sake of it.

  6. Ronnie Grant, July 20, 2016 at 10:28 p.m.

    AA, every club (meaning their youth team) in the world "identifies" players that started and were developed somewhere else. So when a club overseas does it it's fine? You're arguing semantics of who actually does the developing. Or are you sad Vancouver actually pays attention (scouting) to players on other teams? Pulisic played for three youth teams. And I would postulate that if there wasn't U17 residency Union would've enticed him to their youth set-up back in 2014-15 and he'd be their phenom today. But I don't care about a 17-18 year old phenom and professional clubs don't either. Sure they want one, but what they are looking for is 20-22 year-old professionally developed players that will be a part of the senior team for three, five, ten years.

    Where is your proof that MLS clubs aren't developing players to progress from their U16s to the U18s? That pro clubs (not just MLS) have an U23 PDL type team is actually a testament that they want to keep players in their system, misguided as the PDL U23 teams are. There is certainly a disconnect with USYNTs, but from what I've seen MLS youth teams all have a system and play a certain style. I would also hope the youth team sets the tone for playing style, not the senior team. Pete Vagenas is more important for the Galaxy Academy than Bruce Arena or Curt Onalfo. I certainly hope Arena does have a say because of his knowledge, but any head coach of a MLS senior team can be gone tomorrow and you want his influence on the youth team? I do feel it's important for the senior team coaching staff to have an influence on the USL Reserve team.

    One valid complaint is that the U14 and U13 teams are just now coming online in any meaningful way, mainly with respect to the USDA national league.

    Another complaint you have and one I certainly agree with is that only 11 out of 20 MLS teams have a USL entrant. Every one of them should have one. Soccer specific stadiums are very important, but any expansion team must also have a USL entrant and a youth set-up. What is separating LA Galaxy from FC Dallas is the academy players now can graduate to the ULS side. There have been 10 such players for LA and zero for FCD. Sure FCD has signed more players to the senior team, but they would've been better served to get games in a U21 set-up. The missing component for MLS is the development of U21 players, not U18 (and younger) players.

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