Griffin O’Neill writes a detailed scout report about Alphonso Davies, the Vancouver Whitecaps winger.
While many still believe that the MLS is the home of aging players far past their prime and looking for a comfortable place to end their careers, this is no longer true. A new generation of young stars is beginning to take hold of the MLS of the future. One of the most exciting of these youngsters is the Canadian winger Alphonso Davies.
Who Is Alphonso Davies?
Born in a refugee camp in Buduburam, Ghana due to a civil war going in in his parents’ home country of Liberia, Davies and his family moved to Canada when he was five years old. When he was a teenager, Davies was often forced to take care of his infant siblings due to his parents having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. During this time, Davies used football as an outlet in his life, and his hard work paid off when he was signed by Vancouver Whitecaps at age 15. He became the youngest player to play for Vancouver Whitecaps 2 in the USL at age 15 years and five months. He made his MLS debut for Vancouver against Orlando City in July of 2016, making him the second youngest player in MLS history, only behind the legendary Freddy Adu. This appearance also made Davies the first ever player born in the new millennium to feature in an MLS game.
Since then, Davies has excelled greatly. He has made a total of seventy-two appearances for Vancouver in all competitions, scoring nine goals and assisting twelve. After being primarily used as an impact substitute in his first full season as a professional in the 2017 MLS season, Davies has become a fixture in the starting lineup for Vancouver in the 2018 season. He has started all but six games in the MLS this season, which is incredibly impressive for a player his age. Davies’ consistent playing time and impressive performances in the league also earned him a move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs, Bayern Munich. The Bavarian club paid a reported seventeen million Euros for Davies, which will make him the most expensive export in MLS history when Davies joins Bayern in January of 2019.
Davies is also Canada’s youngest ever goalscorer at sixteen years of age. He scored for Canada in their Gold Cup group stage match against French Guiana. Already, Davies has scored three goals in six caps, which easily puts him on pace to better Dwayne De Rosario’s record of 22 goals for Canada. Even at his young age, Davies is already one of Canada’s most exciting players to watch and most definitely has the potential to become one of the greatest Canadian players of all time.
What is his Style of Play?
Davies is an extremely fast player, which he uses to his advantage whenever he gets the ball in space. He is very accomplished at beating slower fullbacks with his pace. While his pace used to be Davies’ only real weapon in attack, he has expanded his game during the 2018 season to include some extremely impressive dribbling.
Davies has routinely made opposing fullbacks look silly with his fast footwork on the edge of the box. He uses his pace and dribbling ability to cut inside and either unleash a vicious shot on goal or put in a dangerous cross.
Positionally, Davies prefers a left-sided role playing as what is today an unorthodox winger. Davies has been able to lock down this position within the Whitecaps squad, with all but two of Davies’ MLS appearances in 2018 have come at left wing.
What are his Strengths?
As previously mentioned, Davies’ main attacking weapon is his pace. His speed on and off of the ball forces defenders to play off of him, allowing him more space to either make runs in front of the opposition or drop back and pull defenders out of position. This is a skill that Davies can only improve in too, and his already impressive pace, along with the offensive awareness that comes with experience, will surely make him a force to be reckoned with as he ages.
Another strength of Davies’ is his dribbling ability. He is extremely adept at beating defenders off the dribble, and this is shown by the fact that Davies completes 4.5 dribbles per game, according to www.whoscored.com, which gives him the most completed dribbles per game in the entire MLS. This statistic, up from eighth in the 2017 season, is a very clear sign of progression in his game, and this is a very good sign of things to come. If Davies can continue to improve at this rate, as well as being able to acclimatise quickly to the European game, will put Davies on track to become a star of the future.
What are his Weaknesses?
While Davies is an extremely accomplished dribbler of the ball, he does not yet have the strength to physically challenge larger and more experienced defenders. The ability to physically compete with larger defenders is crucial in a physically demanding league such as the MLS. Davies as adapted to this boy using his dribbling ability to great effect, but he will not be able to rely so heavily on his pace and dribbling when playing against Europe’s elite at Bayern Munich.
Another area in which Davies needs to improve is his passing. He only completes 79.9% of his passes, which, while always improving, is not good enough for a player in his position. This is while only attempting 0.9 long balls and 0.5 crosses per game as well. This is by far Davies’ biggest weakness, but because of his extremely young age, he has ample time to improve his passing to reach the potential that he has.
Overall, Davies’ primary weaknesses revolve around his physical and mental attributes, which will hopefully progress as he ages. If he can keep progressing at his current rate, Davies is young enough that he will have more than an ample amount of time to iron out his weaknesses and make an impact in the European game with Bayern Munich as well as becoming a legend of the Canadian national team.
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