Tony Annan - Atlanta United - Homegrown Game coach

As Major League Soccer’s most talented prospects converged in Atlanta ahead of Tuesday’s 2018 Homegrown Game presented by Energizer, it was one of the bona-fide MLS All-Stars (and one of their own), Vancouver Whitecaps forward Alphonso Davies, who was one of the big talking points of the day.

The reason being, of course, is that Davies and the Whitecaps recently agreed to a move to Bayern Munich at season’s end for a league-record transfer fee.

Perhaps the only thing faster than Davies sprinting down the wing is his own professional rise, from Vancouver’s academy side in 2015 to being one of two Commissioner’s picks for the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. But Atlanta United Academy Director Tony Annan – manager of the Homegrown side taking on the Tigres UANL U-23s on Tuesday – made sure to point out that Davies’ ascension was true to the developmental process.

“If you look at Alphonso, he plied his trade as a youth and came through the system,” Annan said, following the Homegrowns’ first training session Sunday afternoon. “He got into the first team and did really well. Now he's moving to Europe. But he really has done the process every step of the way and he hasn't jumped any part of it.”

Davies’ ascension was as rapid as it was thorough: He played with the academy; he played in USL with Vancouver Whitecaps 2; he battled for playing time with the first team, despite not getting picked every game; and finally, his persistence – and his fine play – has paid off.

A stunning, 2-goal, 2-assist performance on Saturday has boosted Davies' season line to 5 goals and 10 assists through 21 games (18 starts). 

“He's a good posterboy for what can happen if you go through the process and you do it the right way,” Annan said. “And look at him now, he's got a $20 million move to Europe. For me, it's a great way to show people that it can be done. There are a few doubters that say it can't be done, but you just have to be patient. He has taken his opportunities at every turn, and now he's reaping the rewards of that.”