TORONTO — Like others in MLS, Toronto FC have taken notice of Vancouver Whitecaps teenager Alphonso Davies.
Davies, who turned 16 on Nov. 2, has already made nine MLS appearance and started in four of the Whitecaps' five games over the last three weeks including the season-opener and three CONCACAF Champions League outings.
The Liberian-born midfielder, who came to Canada with his family when he was four, is good on the ball and combines strength, mobility and creativity.
"Regardless of age, I think he's a very talented player," said Toronto head coach Greg Vanney. "I think he's dangerous, he's aggressive, he runs at you ... Obviously he's got good size and athleticism and pace to go with what I think is good technique.
"And probably what's most impressive for his age is just the composure and belief that he belongs on the field and that he can make a difference. That is mature beyond his years. But I like him. I enjoy watching him as a player. If he's on the field against us, we'll have to be aware of him and his strengths and make sure we're accounting for them."
Toronto (0-0-2) plays at Vancouver (0-1-1) on Saturday.
Davies was voted the Canadian men's under-17 player of the year in 2016 when he played for Canada's U-17 and U-20 team.
Toronto captain Michael Bradley, who also leads the U.S. national team, has also been watching the five-foot-11, 160-pounder with interest.
"For a young player he has a lot of really good starting points," said Bradley. "The way he can move with the ball and put defenders on the wrong foot is pretty special. Obviously (Whitecaps coach) Carl Robinson has done a really good job, not just with Alphonso Davies, but with a lot of their young guys of pushing them along and clearly giving them confidence and encouragement and room to grow."
Toronto forward Tosaint Ricketts is also impressed.
"I think it's excellent. It's good to have a young talent coming up," said the Canadian international. "For him to be getting the playing time and for him to be getting the support by his club is fantastic. Not many Canadian players get that support. So I'm happy to see that he's doing well."
Davies is repaying the favour. He scored the stoppage-time goal against Sporting Kansas City that sent Vancouver to the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals and then scored for the Whitecaps in the second leg of the quarter-final against the New York Red Bulls.
He started in the 2-0 loss to Tigres UANL in the first leg of the CONCACAF semifinal on Tuesday.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press