On Saturday, the Vancouver Whitecaps play the Seattle Sounders in the Cascadia Cup -- the 114th meeting between the clubs in a series that dates back to the old NASL in 1974.
It's a big
game for the Caps, currently two points out of a playoff spot with four losses in their last five games, but they might be without 17-year-old star Alphonso Davies.
Liberian-born Canadian international didn't attend practice on Friday and his status for the game on Saturday was described as "unknown" amid speculation that he might be sold.
Athletic reported Friday night that Bayern Munich had the inside
track to acquire Davies for a transfer fee of $12 million (plus contingencies) that would break the MLS record for a transfer set when Jozy Altidore was sold by the New York Red Bulls to
Spain's Villarreal for $10 million in 2018.
Any deal is complicated by the fact that Davies is only 17 -- he doesn't turn 18 until Nov. 2 -- and Bayern wouldn't be able to register him
during the current transfer window that closes Aug. 31. It would have to wait until Jan. 1, 2019, to register him, but there is speculation that Davies will want to move to Germany now and train
in the interim -- like American Josh Sargent did at Werder Bremen last winter.
Davies is an exceptional young MLS talent, as he showed with the goal he scored against D.C. United
in the Audi Field opener last Saturday when he wiggled past four defenders and fired a left-footed rocket inside the far post, but $12 million is a lot of money for a 17-year-old and gives Bayern a
lot of bargaining power.
Davies isn't the only young MLS star
possibly on the move this summer. Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron has attracted lots of interest from clubs in England, and the Five Stripes, in the running for an MLS title in only their
second season, face the dilemma of selling him now -- in mid-season -- for maximum value or waiting until January when the European transfer market is slower. Absent switching to a calendar adopted by
most European countries, this is always going to be a problem.
As MLS clubs go into selling mode -- entering the international transfer market in a serious way -- they are faced with the
prospect of disappointing loyal fans who care about only one thing -- winning a trophy -- if they move players during the summer.
It's been suggested that fans will accept their favorite
MLS clubs becoming selling clubs and losing young stars after a couple of seasons like fans at top college basketball programs have come to accept that the best players will turn pro after one or two
Davies was promoted to the Caps' first team two years ago this week, while Almiron has been with Atlanta for a season and a half. They've been in MLS about as long as a sophomore
leaving for the NBA.
Chances are they'll stay through the end of the 2018 season. But if they or other young stars leave in the summer, that's not like college basketball players turning
The Dukes and Kentuckys of college basketball would never accept losing their young stars to the NBA in January.