TORONTO – Even as they brace to face his team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, in the first leg of the 2018 Canadian Championship final on Wednesday at BC Place (10 pm ET | TSN), Toronto FC players could not help but be excited by what the future holds for Alphonso Davies.
The 17-year-old has been transferred to FC Bayern Munich for an MLS record fee, though he will stay with Vancouver for the remainder of the season, before joining the German giants in January 2019.
“It's terrific,” Jozy Altidore said Thursday. “Huge congrats to him, especially as a young black kid. You need more black role models, especially in soccer. Hopefully the Canadian [Soccer Association] does a good job promoting him in a way where kids that look like him will say, 'You know what? I can be Alphonso Davies.’”
Altidore, who as a teenager himself in 2008 was transferred from the New York Red Bulls to Spanish club Villareal for a then-record fee, knows a thing or two about Davies' road ahead.
“I'm a huge fan of his, his eagerness to learn, to play, that youthful exuberance ... you love to see it,” Altidore said. “I hope he continues to grow. I look forward to watching his career, and I hope he has the right people around him because he has a very bright future.”
Michael Bradley has also experienced something akin to what Davies will see in Germany. The Toronto midfielder signed with the Dutch club SC Heerenveen at 18, the same age at which the Vancouver wunderkind will join Bayern.
“So exciting — for him, for Canadian Soccer, for MLS as a whole,” Bradley said. “You don't need to watch him long to see how talented he is, to see the ability and the potential. His way of running with the ball, putting guys on the wrong foot and going by them is special.
“Bayern Munich made a really good push to get him; sounds like they have a real plan in how to use him, move him along,” He continued. “There are a lot of big clubs in the world, but Bayern is up with the very best. … Looking ahead, it's exciting for Canada that a guy like that is going to be very much in his prime in 2026 [when the World Cup returns to North America]. That sets up great.”
TFC striker Jordan Hamilton recalls the first time he laid eyes on his countryman, when Davies was 15, at a Canada U-20 camp in early 2016.
“He was so frail and little, but you could see that he had talent,” the 22-year-old Hamilton said. “To see him grow from where he was, he's come a long way. That's a credit to what they've done in Vancouver. And I wish him all the best in Bayern when he gets there.”
Davies was on the field the last time Toronto and Vancouver met in the finals of a Canadian Championship back in 2016, coming off the bench before Will Johnson scored the 95th-minute blast that saw the Voyageurs Cup vanish from Vancouver's grasp and into TFC's hands.
Hamilton was adamant that again this year, the trophy is not for Davies, even if TFC players will be rooting for him once he gets to Bayern.
“We need to keep adding to our cabinet up here at the BMO Training Ground," Hamilton said.