When Bayern Munich played D.C. United at the Audi Field in the capitol, a familiar face stepped on to the pitch and remembered how his career took off since then. Some of D.C.’s players might recognize him as well. It was because this person once showed his insane potential in that very same pitch.
In July 2018, the then newly-opened Audi Field was to host its first ever football match, between its current tenants D.C. United against a Vancouver Whitecaps that contained a certain Alphonso Davies. United were 3-0 up at 90 minutes, but someone was about to spoil D.C. goalkeeper David Ousted’s bid for a first ever clean sheet of the season. In the 93rd minute, Davies caught United in possession before skipping past four players (sound familiar?) and firing off a shot from outside the box. Vancouver may have lost 3-1, but Davies’ insane solo goal alleviated the (Montreal) impact of the loss. See it here:
This alerted Bayern, who came calling a few weeks later, and we know what’s happened since. From doing his best Arjen Robben impersonation after scoring his first goal against Mainz 05 to stopping then-Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland by catching up to him from the halfway line to bamboozling FC Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo in that famous 8-2 win in Lisbon, you name it.
Bayern unsurprisingly made Davies the lead of their social media platforms due to his MLS history. Davies looked back fondly on his time in the States and said that he felt happy playing in US soil for the first time in four years.
“I’m happy to be back here, happy to play in front of the North American fans again,” Davies said (as captured by MLS Soccer). “The journey has been really really incredible, really inspiring … looking back on the couple of years that I’ve left MLS, just coming back here brings back all these memories.”
“For me, it’s incredible. Bayern Munich is one of the biggest clubs in the world and being able to play for them, play with the players that I play with, is truly an honor. I’ve learned so much from these guys just from my first day here, and until now, I’m still learning. I’m happy to be here and I’m satisfied here.”
Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann raved about Davies’ continuous improvement. “I think he’s getting better and better,” said Nagelsmann. “Sometimes last season we had kind of problems to find the best position [for him], especially when we play with three in a row, that wide position. So, in training yesterday, we trained attacking, and involved in a 3-5-2, he did brilliant.
“Today we played with four in a row, and he showed moments in offensive and also on defense,” Nagelsmann continued. “The most important topic for him is to play passes into the middle and follow the ball; today he did almost four or five times when he did exactly this movement, played passes into the red zone and followed the ball, because then with his speed, it’s not that easy to defend.”
“I’m happy with his performance today and also happy with his performance in the preseason so far. He’s one of the best wing defenders in Europe and we’re happy to have him on our squad.”
In the crowd that night in 2018 was a 16-year-old named Ted Ku-DiPietro. Now a pro player for D.C., he remembered the moment when Davies scored that goal. “That goal was insane, honestly. I think he did two players and then just put it bottom corner,” recalled Ku-DiPietro outside United’s locker room. “It was amazing.”
Ku-DiPietro hopes to follow Davies’ path to stardom. “He even came from the USL like I did. So, like just for him to go up through that,” said Ku-DiPietro, “and just to see him playing for Bayern Munich is something I look up to, and maybe I can do that someday. Who knows?”
It just goes to show that Bayern’s resident “roadrunner” can be a role model for the next generation of wunderkinds.
“What he looked like when he was in Vancouver and what he looks like now, I mean, he’s a beast. He’s one of the best left backs in the world,” said Chad Ashton, United’s interim head coach and an assistant under ex-manager Ben Olsen in 2018. “We will certainly be reminding [young players] and saying, ‘Hey, this is what you want to be. This is what you want to strive for.’”
“It’s incredible to see the level he’s at compared to when he was in the league, but it’s fantastic.”
Bayern triumphed 6-2 against D.C. United. Check out our coverage of that game here:
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