Alphonso Davies - Vancouver Whitecaps 2 - celebration flip

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Vancouver Whitecaps prospect Alphonso Davies notched another first in his fledgling footballing career on Wednesday night.

The 15-year-old, already under professional contract with Vancouver's USL team, made his inaugural start for the first team and put in a fantastic performance in the Whitecaps' 3-0 Canadian Championship win over the Ottawa Fury, giving them a 3-2 win in the aggregate series.

Davies played 84 minutes, created several chances and drilled a first-half shot off the post before revealing that he had school homework waiting for him when he got back home.

"I wanted to give Alphonso a chance, because I thought he was ready," Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said. "He didn't look out of place down there, so all credit to him. I know his mom and dad and coach will be very proud of him."

If you feel Robinson's words were playing down Davies' performance, that's because they were, and with good reason.

Robinson has been involved in the game long enough to have seen talented young players come and go without ever fulfilling their potential. Players who get hyped to the max when they first make a breakthrough, then flame out and disappear from the top of the game.

Sometimes it's talent, sometimes it's the pressure to perform, sometimes it's believing your own press and thinking you've made it when you still have a lot of work ahead of you. It all leads to Robinson being rightly protective and cautionary about his young star.

"Listen, I'm a big advocate of young players, as you all know, but I don't like it sometimes when players get built up," Robinson added. "The reason I don't like it is when you build them up, you [the media] knock them down. I don't want that. It's important he keeps his feet on the ground.

"He's a young kid. He's got natural ability; we know that. He's one of a number of younger kids we've got that we think have got incredible potential. But it's potential. There's so many players that have potential that don't fulfill it."

A native of Liberia, Davies' family arrived in Canada when he was 5 years old, moving from Ontario to Edmonton before Davies – still only 14 at the time – joined the Whitecaps' residency program last fall. He scored his first professional goal in USL play on May 15 and has now appeared in both Whitecaps games in the Canadian Championship.

As a Whitecaps 2 player, Davies is limited to four short-term call-ups to the Whitecaps per season for non-league games (he has already used two), and he can only play in an MLS game for the first team if Vancouver had fewer than 15 players available for a match. In addition to the first team and USL squad, Davies has played for Vancouver's U-18 and U-16 academy teams this year. On the international level, he was called up to Canada's U-20 squad in March of this year and started their win over England.

Understandably, the Whitecaps want to keep Davies grounded and prevent him from carrying the overbearing weight of expectation around his neck while still learning his craft and while his game and body are still rapidly developing.

But he is a clear talent, and Ottawa manager Paul Dalglish – who coached another African-born teen prodigy, then-17-year-old Kekuta Manneh, with the PDL's Austin Aztex in 2012 – said the sky's the limit for Davies, both for club and country.

"He’s a real, real exciting talent," Dalglish said of Davies. "He’s brilliant for 15 years of age to do that. At 15, I couldn’t even look people in the eye, and he’s going out and taking men on, and looking absolutely magnificent. [Vancouver] produce top young players, as you can see with the results of their academy and the Whitecaps FC 2 team this year.

"He’s the shining light. He’s the cherry on top of the cake. I think everybody in Canada must be excited at the prospect of him playing for the national team for years and years, because with the ability he’s got, he should go on to do big things, not only for Vancouver but for the national team as well."