In 1904, the Canadian men's soccer team went to the St. Louis Summer Olympics, won two games by a combined score of 11–0 and walked away with a gold medal. That medal—won 117 years ago—is probably the peak of men's soccer achievements in Canada. They have been to the World Cup just once, in 1986, and they lost three straight games and didn't score once.
Meanwhile, in the last few decades, Canadian soccer has been taken over by the women's team. Led by global superstar Christine Sinclair, they followed up a pair of bronze Olympic medals in 2012 and 2016 with their own well-earned gold early this year in Tokyo. They're on top of the world!
But now, after over a hundred years of mostly poor results, the men's team is really coming into its own. Six games into the World Cup qualifying tournament, they are undefeated with two wins and four draws. The team is deep with talent and well coached. And it's led by a young player who could be every bit the leader Sinclair was for the women's team.
Alphonso Davies. Let's get to know him better!
Moving to Canada
At just 20 years old, Davies has now been playing pro soccer for five years. But his love of the game started way earlier than that.
Davies was born in a refugee camp in Ghana in November 2000, moving to Liberia soon after. Then, when civil war hit that country, his family fled to Canada. Davies was only five when he moved to Edmonton. There he began playing in a free after-school soccer league for elementary students. And the seed was planted!
Tall, strong, and very fast, Davies quickly excelled. As a 15 year-old, he joined the Vancouver Whitecaps, who play in Major League Soccer (MLS). He broke into the squad, becoming the second youngest player to play in the league. Then just two years later, he was signed by one of the top clubs in the world, Germany's Bayern Munich. He quickly made his way into the starting lineup of this powerhouse club, winning both the Bundesliga (Germany's top league) title and the Champions League in 2020.
The Champions League features the best teams from all across Europe and is considered one of the hardest and more prestigious trophies to win in the sport. Just 19 years old at the time, he was the first Canadian player to win it. And he did it as one of the best players on a team loaded with superstars from around the world. Incredible!
If Alphonso Davies is one of many stars on Bayern, he is the undisputed best player for the Canadian men's national team. Thanks to his ability to run down opponents, make razor sharp passes, and, of course, score, Canada has that one special player that all teams need to break games open and come away with victory.
But the team wouldn't be so successful if it was just about him. Davies just happens to be surrounded by a host of young talent that is some of the best the country has ever seen. Midfielder Tajon Buchanan. Forwards Cyle Larin and Jonathan David. Defender Sam Adekugbe. For the first time, Canada sits alongside the United States and Mexico as one of the most feared teams in its region, known as CONCACAF.
What it will take
So does this mean Canada is going to the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar? It's not a done deal yet. The top three teams in CONCACAF qualify for the World Cup. After six games, Canada is in third. Eight more games are left to be played. They'll need to be very good to get through.
But after their last game, a smashing 4–1 win over Panama on Wednesday in front of an overjoyed home crowd in Toronto, people are starting to belief in this team. They don't just play defense and hope for the best like past Canadian teams. They attack and take control. And there's no better example of that than Davies' own moment of brilliance that gave Canada a 2–1 lead.
This video from CBC Sports breaks it all down. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out. It's one of the best goals ever scored by a Canadian player. And we think Alphonso Davies is just getting started!
Canada's next games will be played in Edmonton, Alberta on November 12 (vs. Costa Rica) and 16 (vs. Mexico)