No I am not referring to marijuana legalisation – though by all means – if you feel the need to have a quick toke before reading on please do.
It’s time, for probably the first time since 1986 to get excited about our Men’s Soccer team. Yes you read that right – and NO I’m not high!
*Disclaimer*Before I start, I’d like to point out I am a HUGE supporter of our Women’s team. I currently own a Sinclair Jersey, and I can’t wait until she breaks the all time record for goals. I am also extremely excited to watch Jesse Fleming for the next 20 years, as I think she will be a superstar! Now on with the post….
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or don’t really give a shit about Soccer I’m sure you’ve already heard of Alphonso Davies. He is the 17 year old wonder kid who plays for the Whitecaps in the MLS, and one day could be the most famous Canadian athlete of all time (no pressure).
Here are just a few of his accomplishments. Keep in mind, he isn’t even 18 yet.
- On May 15, 2016, he scored his first professional goal, making him the youngest goal scorer in USL history at 15 years, 6 months
- Davies made his MLS debut on July 16, 2016, becoming the second youngest player to play in MLS
- In June 2017, he became the youngest player to appear for the Canadian men’s national team
- He was named one of the 60 best young soccer talents in the world in 2017.
- On June 29, 2018, Davies was included in the MLS All-Star roster
- Davies played his first game for the Canada Mens team at the age of 16, making him the youngest player to play for the national team.
- Davies played for Canada in the Cold Cup – scoring 3 goals and winning the golden boot. Davies was also awarded the “young player of the tournament” award
- In 25 starts for the Whitecaps this year, Davies currently has 11 assists (tied for 7th in league) to go along with 6 goals.
Although the stats above probably give you a good idea of just how good he is, the fact that he was recently signed by Bayern Munich (one of the best teams in the world) for an MLS record fee of 22 million dollars should hammer home just how highly skilled and touted he is.
If you needed any more proof. Take a minute and watch this:
Aside from Alphonso Davies, here are 5 other young Canadian players to get excited about.
- Ballou Tabla- Winger
Earlier this month, it was reported that 19 year old Ballou Tabla would play for Canada. He could have played for either Canada or Ivory Coast, so the fact he chose Canada is a big deal, and I have to think he sees a the potential of this young Canadian team for the next decade or more. Tabla is a skilled, fast winger, and will look great playing in front of Davies for the next decade or more. There aren’t many clubs in the world bigger than Bayern Munich where Alphonso signed, however Barcelona would be one of the few. Earlier this year, Ballou Tabla signed a 5 year deal with the Barcelona B team, and included a buyout clause of 25 million euros for the first 3 years, up to 75 million for the last 2 years.
- Jonathan David – Striker
At just 18 years old, it looks like Canada may have a bonafide striker who has a knack for scoring goals. David was recently signed by Gent in the top division in Belgium. In his first 5 games for Gent, he scored 5 goals. David was recently called up to play for Canada and in his first 2 games he has scored 3 goals (including a beauty earlier this week set up by Alphonso Davies) in which he hammered it into the top corner 2 minutes into the game.
- Liam Millar – Striker
Another Canadian signed by a top club – this time it’s Liverpool’s under 23 team. Admittedly I have only seen him play once, and it was out of his natural position, but again the fact a top club is signing a 19 year old Canadian is great news for the future of our program (and quite frankly, something that was almost unheard of just a few years ago).
- Alessandro Busti – Goalkeeper
18 year old Busti, just earned his first cap (and clean sheet) playing in Canada’s last game. He currently plays for Juventus F.C Under 23 team. Although Canada currently has a more than capable goalkeeper in Borjan, the future is bright with Busti officially in the system now.
- Zachary Brault-Guillard – Defender
Canada is in an unusual spot of having a wealth of attacking options, however the one area they definitely still need to improve is their backline. This is why I included Guillard on my list. He is currently playing in France for French club Lyon II, where he was recently appointed captain. Like Tabla & Busti, Guillard earned his first cap for Canada in the recent 5-0 win against Dominica.
With all the attention Davies, and these other youngsters have been getting, it is easy to forget that Canada also has a few other bright spots in their lineup:
Junior Hoilett who currently plays in the English Premier League for Cardiff City is still only 28 years old, and should be a mainstay in the midfield for the next few years. Although the opponent’s weren’t the strongest, in his last 2 appearances for Canada he has did score 2 goals. Hoilett has a lot of offensive ability, and now has some other really talented players to play with on the national team.
Scott Arfield was recently named captain of the Canada team, and is just 29 years old. He spent the last 2 years playing for Burnley in the English Premier League (scoring 3 goals). This season he moved to the Scottish Premier league and plays for Celtic Rangers. In his first 7 games this season he already has 2 goals. Scott Arfield is an all around solid midfield player who is responsible defensively but can play well with the ball as well.
Cyle Larin is still just 23 years old, and is just 3 years away from scoring 17 goals in the MLS & being awarded rookie of the year. He has since moved on to play in the top league in Turkey for Besiktas. Although there is a lot more competition on this Canadian team at striker(David & Cavalliini), Larin should still get his chances to play, and with 8 goals in 26 appearances for Canada it’s easy to understand why.
Aside from the players, one last reason to perhaps get excited, is the new coach: John Herdman.
Over the last 7 years Herdman coached the Canada Woman’s team. In that time they accomplished:
- Gold medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games
- Qualified for and won Bronze at London Olympics
- Qualified for and won Bronze at Rio Olympics
- Perhaps more important than the medals, he has really pushed for the growth of the game in Canada, development of young players, bringing soccer to the forefront in Canada, I’ve definitely seen big improvements in all 3 since his tenure began.
Although it has only been 3 games since he has moved to the Men’s team, I think it is important to note, they have won all 3 games, and broke some records along the way. Sure the opponents weren’t the strongest, but I remember lots of close games between Canada and some weaker teams in years past. In his first 3 games, Herdman has led the Canadian team to the following:
- Beat New Zealand 1-0
- Beat U.S Virgin Islands 8-0
- Beat Dominica 5-0
The US Virgin Island win broke a record, for Canada’s biggest ever win. The Dominica win tied a record for most goals ever scored on Canadian soil.
The next game for our National team is March 26, for our 3rd game in the Concacaf Nations Cup. I’ll be watching, I hope some of you do too!