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Larin, Davies team up to help Canada crush Bermuda in World Cup qualifier

One down, 19 more to go.

Canada opened its oft-delayed World Cup qualifying campaign Thursday with a comfortable 5-1 win over Bermuda. It’s the start of a long road, with at least 19 more matches needed to get to Qatar in 2022.

Cyle Larin scored three goals, with Alphonso Davies playing provider each time, as the Canadian men played their first competitive match since a 4-1 CONCACAF Nations League loss to the U.S. on Nov. 16, 2019, at the same venue — Exploria Stadium.

Richie Laryea and debutant Theo Corbeanu also scored for Canada. Kane Critchlow replied for Bermuda with a second-half goal against the run of play.

WATCH | Larin hat trick leads Canada past Bermuda:

Canada dominates Bermuda 5-1 as they start World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region. 3:19

It was a scrappy opening 15 minutes for the Canadians, perhaps unsurprising given their time apart. But once the engine warmed up, it was one-way traffic.

“It took us a while to get started, but once we did get started you could see the quality in that team,” said coach John Herdman.

“All in all a good night, but loads to build on,” he added. “I mean you look at the potential in this group now. It’s one game and as I keep saying there’s 19 more to go. I just can’t wait to see these guys in 19 games time.”

The degree of difficulty will escalate as the qualifying road unfolds. But this Canadian squad, which was missing Jonathan David and Jonathan Osorio on the night, is brimming with promise

“This is a very very good team,” said Laryea. “We’ve got some really good pieces, some guys that we’re missing, that aren’t here right now that are also extremely huge pieces. It’s only going to get better but we can’t settle for anything.”

Canada is ranked 73rd in the world, compared to No. 169 for Bermuda. The Bermudians’ task was complicated by the fact that some of its players — and coach Kyle Lightbourne — did not make it to the match because of COVID-19 protocols.

Bermuda managed just five players on its bench, compared to 12 for Canada,

“We had to do quite a bit of quarantining to keep ourselves safe so we could even get the amount of players that we did to the match today,” said Maurice Lowe, technical development director at the Bermuda Football Association, who ran the team from the sidelines.

While officially a Canadian home game, the match was shifted to Orlando because of pandemic-related travel restrictions. The Canadians face the Cayman Islands on Sunday in Bradenton, Fla., in a game that was to have been hosted by the Caymans but was moved to ease similar quarantine hurdles.

WATCH | Breaking down Canada’s path to Qatar:

Canada’s men’s national team squad, filled with as much raw talent as there is experience, has to win the group stage in the First Round of qualification to keep their hopes of participating in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 alive. 10:08

Bermuda gave up a number of early free kicks and Canada made them pay in the 19th minute when Larin, in a crowd, got his head to a curling set-piece delivery from Davies.

The goal seemed to discombobulate the Bermudians, whose shape began to evaporate.

Larin, upping his Canada goals total to 11 in 32 matches, continued his banner season. The 25-year-old from Brampton, Ont., ranks third in the Turkish Super Lig with 14 goals for Besiktas and looks full of confidence.

“He’s an absolute predator,” Herdman said of Larin, who used to play at Exploria Stadium for Orlando City SC.

Davies, meanwhile, was a constant threat. The Bayern Munich star fullback, moved into a more attacking position by Herdman, tormented defenders on the left flank while providing quality service to teammates.

Larin made it 2-0 in the 27th after Bermuda goalkeeper Dale Eve left his penalty box in search of the ball. Davies got there first and — as Eve scrambled to get back into position — fed it to Larin, who coolly beat a defender and slotted it in.

Laryea scored his first for Canada in the 53rd minute, beating Bermuda’s sloppy attempt at an offside trap before putting the ball past Eve.

Critchlow cut the margin to 3-1 in the 63rd minute after goalkeeper Milan Borjan spilled a cross from Lejaun Simmons. Critchlow was Johnny-on-the-spot, poking the ball in.

WATCH | Referee Nesbitt makes history:

Kathryn Nesbitt, 2020 MLS Assistant Referee of the Year, makes history by becoming the first woman to referee a CONCACAF men’s World Cup qualifier. 0:34

Larin scored his third in the 68th minute, set up again by Davies who had his choice of teammates to choose from in the box. The 18-year-old Corbeanu made it 5-1 in the 81st, tapping home a perfect low cross from fellow substitute Liam Millar.

Larin and Laryea both came up through the Sigma FC program in Mississauga, Ont.

8 of starting XI Canadians based in Europe

Herdman positioned Lucas Cavallini at the tip of the Canadian spear with Davies, Larin and Junior Hoilett behind him in a potent attack.

With MLS teams in pre-season, eight of the 11 Canadian starters came from European-based dreams. Cavallini (Vancouver Whitecaps), Laryea (Toronto FC) and Kamal Miller (CF Montreal) were the MLS starters.

Atiba Hutchinson earned his 85th cap for Canada, moving him past Paul Stalteri into second place among Canadian men behind Julian de Guzman. Borjan earned his 50th cap.

For the 38-year-old Hutchinson, it marks his fifth round of World Cup qualifying. Only goalkeeper Pat Onstad, with six, has taken part in more among Canadian men.

Hutchinson, playing in his 28th World Cup qualifier, wore the captain’s armband for the 12th time. After the game, Herdman said his skipper was leaving Friday to return to Turkey.

Canada’s starting 11 Thursday took the field with a combined 266 caps under their belt. Some 191 of those came from Hutchinson, Borjan, Larin and Hoilett. The 20-year-old Davies earned his 18th cap.

Cavallini robbed

Cavallini could have had a hat trick in the first 35 minutes.

He was put in alone in the 16th minute but Eve got a hand to his low shot from the edge of the penalty box. The Whitecaps striker had another chance in the 34th minute, after a defender whiffed on a Davies cross, but shot just wide.

A minute later, Cavallini’s shot off another fine Davies feed slammed off the crossbar. The burly striker held his head in his hands and kicked the goalpost in frustration.

Eve made a fine reflex save to stop Cavallini’s header in the 56th from close range.

Herdman credited Cavallini with occupying the Bermuda centre backs, allowing space for Larin and Davies to exploit.

Nashville SC fullback Alistair Johnston came on in the 69th minute to earn his first Canada cap. Corbeanu, an 18-year-old attacking midfielder who plays for Wolves under-23 side in England, followed in the 77th and essentially scored in his first touch.

“That was brilliant,” said Herdman, who told him to “go make an impact.”

Samuel Piette came off the bench to earn his 50th cap for Canada, which improved to 6-0-4 all-time against Bermuda.

Bermuda, whose population of 72,000 is about the same as Sarnia, Ont., was without Bristol City forward Nahki Wells due to quarantine issues.

After the Caymans, Canada faces two more Group B games — June 5 at No. 200 Aruba and June 8 at home to No. 141 Suriname, which blanked the visiting Caymans 3-0 on Tuesday.

Thirty countries, split into six groups, are taking part in the first round of qualifying in the region which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. Only the group winners move on.

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Alphonso Davies highlights young Canada squad for World Cup qualifiers

Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies highlights a young Canada squad for World Cup qualifiers against Bermuda and the Cayman Islands this week.

Canada Soccer announced the roster Tuesday, delaying the announcement until all the players could arrive in camp and meet COVID-19 protocols. The games, both to be held in Florida because of pandemic-related travel restrictions, mark the oft-delayed start of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region.

Assembling the roster from around the globe given the current conditions has not been easy.

“What a mission to get that roster in, what a mission,” coach John Herdman said with a sigh. “It’s been crazy.”

Herdman said getting the players in camp involved dealing with national federations and clubs, the Canadian and U.S. Olympic Committees, Major League Soccer and embassies around the globe. Davies, for one, was on the move in Germany helping secure his own visa, he added.

“I take my hat off to these guys,” Herdman told a virtual news conference. “They have families back home that are probably questioning their decisions to come halfway around the world at this time in their careers.

“It just speaks volumes to, one, the brotherhood and what they’ve created here and wanting to be part of something. And, two, how serious they’re taking this World Cup qualification campaign. So massive respect.”

The Canadians, ranked 73rd in the world, open Thursday against No. 169 Bermuda in Orlando before facing the No. 193 Cayman Islands on Sunday in Bradenton in first-round Group B play. They will have to play at least 18 more games if they are to make it to Qatar 2022.

The Canadian men have not played a competitive match since Nov. 15, 2109, when they lost 4-1 to the U.S. in CONCACAF Nations League play. The only games since then were three friendlies — two against Barbados and one against Iceland — in January 2020.

‘There is a lack of experience in here’

Ten of the 24-man roster are 24 or younger, including the 20-year-old Davies. There are two teenagers in Theo Corbeanu and Jayden Nelson, both 18.

The roster has a combined 343 caps with Atiba Hutchinson (84), Milan Borjan (49), Samuel Piette (49), Cyle Larin (31) and Junior Hoilett (27) accounting for 240 of them. Davies has 17 caps.

Seven players — Corbeanu (Woverhampton Wanderers), Ricardo Ferreira (unattached), Dayne St. Clair (Minnesota United, Frank Sturing (FC Den Bosch), Joel Waterman (CF Montreal), Alistair Johnston (Nashville SC) and Cristian Gutierrez (Vancouver Whitecaps) — are uncapped.

Another seven have single-digit caps.

“The goal is always to select the best players — players playing at the highest level, players in form, and then to also look at some of the prospects,” Herdman said when asked about the youthful roster.

“It is a young team and it is where we’re at. There is a lack of experience in here,” he added in an interview. “I mean that’s normal and there’s some things that we’re going to have to learn together. But at the same time we’ve got some really experienced guys in Atiba Hutchinson and Junior Hoilett and Milan Borjan. Those guys, that sprinkling of veterans gives us that wise head and, I think, a real strong leadership core.”

He pointed to Corbeanu as an example of the youth. The 18-year-old winger, who also holds Romanian citizenship, has been playing at the under-23 level for England’s Wolves but has dressed for the first team.

“He’s got a bright future,” said Herdman. “And if being part of the national team can help that future come a bit sooner with regard to pushing into the first team at Wolves, then hopefully picking up some game time in this Canadian team will send a clear message about where we think he’s at.”

There are 11 MLS players including three from the Vancouver Whitecaps, three from CF Montreal and two from Toronto FC.

7-day quarantine

Lille forward Jonathan David was unavailable in the wake of French Ligue 1 clubs opting not to release foreign players summoned for international duty outside the European Union due to COVID-19 quarantine rules.

France currently requires anyone entering the country to quarantine for seven days. FIFA has allowed clubs to hold on to their players if they face a quarantine of longer than five days.

Herdman said David was “absolutely gutted” at having to miss the Canada matches. But with Lille slated to play Paris Saint-Germain in a top-of-the-table clash on April 3, David’s club was unwilling to waive the rules.

In contrast, Valerenga Fotball allowed defender Samuel Adekugbe to come despite Norway also having a seven-day quarantine. Their decision was easier given Norway’s season start has been pushed back to May due to the pandemic.

On the plus side, fans may well get a chance to see Davies, who starts at left back for Bayern, return to a more attacking role.

“Coming into these games I think he could be a real threat in the forward line,” said Herdman. “We’ll take it game by game.”

Herdman said veteran midfielder Scott Arfield is not on the roster because he wanted to focus on his family and his club season with Scotland’s Rangers.

“I’m hoping we see Scott back. He just needed that time to really make a commitment at club level given the amount of travel he had committed to in the previous two, three years with the national team with the national team — two Gold Cups and turning up to every Nations League [match],” said Herdman.

Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio was forced to drop out after a picking up a slight injury in his last training session before leaving for the Canada camp. He was replaced by Nelson.

Qualifier matches

The match against Bermuda is officially a Canada home game but will be played at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium. The Cayman Islands opted to shift Sunday’s game to Bradenton’s IMG Academy for the same reason.

Both matches will be played in empty stadiums. Canada’s next games are June 5 at No. 200 Aruba and June 8, officially at home, to No. 141 Suriname.

Bermuda has moved its home game Sunday against Aruba to Bradenton, where the Bermudians held a camp earlier in the month.

There are six first-round groups and only the group winners advance. The top team in Group B will face the winner of Group E (which consists of No. 84 Haiti, No. 149 Nicaragua, No. 170 Belize, No. 175 Saint Lucia and the 203rd-ranked Turks and Caicos Islands) in a home-and-away series in June.

The three teams to survive the first two rounds of qualifying advance to the final round in the region, joining Mexico (No. 9), the U.S. (No. 22), Jamaica (No. 47), Costa Rica (No. 50) and Honduras (No. 64). The eight teams in the so-called Octagon will play each other home and away, with each country playing 14 matches from September 2021 through March 2022.

The top three teams in the final round qualify automatically for Qatar 2022. The fourth team will take part in an intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.

The Canadian men, who are co-hosting the 2026 World Cup along with Mexico and the U.S., have only ever qualified for one World Cup — 1986 in Mexico where they exited after failing to score in losses to France, Hungary and the Soviet Union.

Canada Roster

Goalkeepers: Milan Borjan, Red Star Belgrade (Serbia); Maxime Crepeau, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Dayne St. Clair, Minnesota United (MLS).

Defenders: Samuel Adekugbe, Valerenga Fotball (Norway); Ricardo Ferreira (unattached); Cristian Gutierrez, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Alistair Johnston, Nashville SC (MLS); Richie Laryea, Toronto FC (MLS); Kamal Miller, CF Montreal (MLS); Frank Sturing, FC Den Bosch (the Netherlands); Steven Vitoria, Moreirense FC (Portugal); Joel Waterman, CF Montreal (MLS)

Midfielders: Theo Corbeanu, Wolverhampton Wanderers (England); Stephen Eustaquio, FC Pacos de Ferreira (Portugal); Atiba Hutchinson, Besiktas JK (Turkey); Mark-Anthony Kaye, Los Angeles FC (MLS); Jayden Nelson, Toronto FC (MLS); Samuel Piette, CF Montreal (MLS); David Wotherspoon, St. Johnstone (Scotland).

Forwards: Lucas Cavallini, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich (Germany); David (Junior) Hoilett, Cardiff City (Wales); Cyle Larin, Besiktas JK (Turkey); Liam Millar, Charlton Athletic (England).

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Canada’s Alphonso Davies handed 2-game ban for red card in Bayern Munich win

Canadian Alphonso Davies has been suspended for two games in the wake of his red card in Bayern Munich’s 4-0 win over VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.

The 20-year-old fullback from Edmonton was yellow-carded in the 11th minute after catching Wataru Endo’s foot with a challenge at Allianz Arena. But that was upgraded to a red a minute later after referee Daniel Schlager reviewed the incident on a sideline monitor.

The incident occurred off a Davies throw-in. The Canadian got the ball to Robert Lewandowski, who sent it back with Endo in chase. Davies’ first touch was poor and things got worse when he lunged to retrieve the ball, catching Endo’s foot/ankle with his studs.

Davies will miss Bayern’s top-of-the-table showdown with second-place RB Leipzig on April 3 and the game against FC Union Berlin on April 10 when the Bundesliga resumes after the March international break.

Davies is expected to be called by Canada for World Cup qualifiers against Bermuda and the Cayman Islands on Thursday and Sunday.

The Bermuda game is officially a Canada home game but will be played in Orlando due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The Cayman Islands shifted the second match to Bradenton, Fla., for the same reason.

Davies has won 17 caps for Canada, with five goals and seven assists.

He was also sent off for a second yellow card in a Bundesliga match last June against Werder Bremen. And he saw red in Canada’s 2-0 friendly win over Jamaica in Toronto in September 2017.

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Alphonso Davies sent off in Bayern Munich win after Canadian shown red card

Canadian star Alphonso Davies was sent off Saturday in Bayern Munich’s 4-0 win over VfB Stuttgart.

The 20-year-old fullback from Edmonton was initially yellow-carded in the 11th minute after catching Wataru Endo’s foot with a challenge. A minute later, play was halted as Daniel Schlager went to the sideline to have another look at the incident on a monitor.

Returning to the pitch, Schlager reached into his pocket and produced a red.

The incident occurred off a Davies throw-in. The Canadian got the ball to Robert Lewandowski, who sent it back with Endo in chase. Davies’ first touch was poor, and things got worse when he lunged to retrieve the ball, catching Endo’s foot/ankle with his studs.

The red card did not slow Bayern, which reeled off four goals — three by Lewandowski — in the first half at Allianz Arena. Austrian international David Alaba took over at fullback from his midfield role.

Davies will miss Bayern’s top-of-the-table showdown with second-place RB Leipzig on April 3 when the Bundesliga resumes after the March international break.

Davies is expected to get another call-up for Canada next week ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Bermuda and the Cayman Islands on March 25 and 28.

17 caps for Canada

The Bermuda game is officially a Canada home game but will be played in Orlando, Fla., due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. The Cayman Islands shifted the second match to Bradenton, Fla., for the same reason.

Davies has won 17 caps for Canada, with five goals and seven assists.

The speedster was also sent off for a second yellow card in a Bundesliga match last June against Werder Bremen.

And he saw red in Canada’s 2-0 friendly win over Jamaica in Toronto in September 2017.

Davies, then 16, was ejected in the 75th minute for kicking out at Jamaica’s Damion Lowe after the two went down in a tangle in the corner at BMO Field. Lowe had seemingly precipitated the incident by shoving the Canadian.

Davies later apologized on social media.

Canada’s roster for CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying

Goalkeepers: Sebastian Breza, Bologna (Italy); Matthew Nogueira, CS Maritimo (Portugal); James Pantemis, CF Montreal (MLS).

Defenders: Zorhan Bassong, CF Montreal (MLS); Zachary Brault-Guillard, CF Montreal (MLS); Derek Cornelius, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Marcus Godinho, FSV Zwickau (Germany); Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, Pacific FC (CPL); Callum Montgomery, Minnesota United FC (MLS).

Midfielders: Michael Baldisimo, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Aidan Daniels, Oklahoma City Energy FC (USL Championship); Lucas Dias, Sporting Lisbon (Portugal); Patrick Metcalfe, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); David Norman, Cavalry FC (CPL) Ryan Raposo, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS).

Forwards: Theo Bair, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Charles-Andreas Brym, Royal Excel Mouscron (Belgium); Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution (MLS); Ballou Tabla, CF Montreal (MLS); Kris Twardek, Jagiellonia (Poland).

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Alphonso Davies, Bayern capture Club World Cup to add to trophy haul

Bayern Munich beat Tigres 1-0 to win the Club World Cup on Thursday for its sixth title under coach Hansi Flick, hours after midfielder Thomas Muller tested positive for the coronavirus.

In front of a masked, socially distanced crowd, Benjamin Pavard scored the only goal in the 59th minute in a comfortable game for the Champions League winner against Mexico’s Tigres, the first team from North and Central America to reach the world final.

Muller wasn’t there to celebrate with the team, though. Bayern and FIFA said he was moved into isolation after his positive test was revealed. Their statements didn’t address how Muller might have been infected or whether any other players had close contact with him.

“It’s a shame he can’t be here and I hope he’s back soon,” striker Robert Lewandowski said in televised comments. “In football something like this can happen and you have to not accept it but adapt to it, and show your best football.”

The Club World Cup is just the latest honour Canadian Alphonso Davies has earned with Bayern Munich.

The 20-year-old fullback from Edmonton has already won the Champions League (2020), Bundesliga title (2019, 2020), DFB Cup (2019, 2020), UEFA Super Cup (2020) and German Super Cup (2020).

Two video reviews changed the course of the game. The first ruled out a goal after deeming that the offside Lewandowski was interfering with play when he jumped over Joshua Kimmich’s goal-bound shot in the 18th minute.

The second review gave Benjamin Pavard the opening goal, overturning another offside call against Lewandowski, who had challenged the goalkeeper before the ball bounced free for Pavard to knock into the net.

Both teams had players who featured in Mexico’s surprise win over Germany at the 2018 World Cup. A similar upset was never on the cards. Tigres came closest to scoring in its own net when a misplaced headed backpass was stopped on the goal line by keeper Nahuel Guzman.

European win streak hits 8

Bayern’s win extended Europe’s run of consecutive Club World Cup wins to eight, highlighting European clubs’ vast financial advantage over the rest of the world. Leroy Sane could have scored another for Bayern, but his 34th-minute shot brushed the bar on its way over.

Egyptian club Al Ahly secured third place with a 3-2 win on penalties over South American champion Palmeiras after the game finished 0-0. The format didn’t include extra time. Al Ahly’s third place was the best result by an African team at the Club World Cup since Morocco’s Raja Casablanca lost the 2013 final to Bayern Munich.

Canadian referee Drew Fischer served as VAR official for the third-place game. He previously worked the tournament games between Qatar’s Al Duhail SC and Egypt’s Al Ahly SC and Bayern Munich against Al Ahly SC.

The 40-year-old from Calgary has previously officiated at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup and CONCACAF U-20 Championship and the 2019 MLS all-star game. He was a member of the first-ever video assistant referee crew at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and was also the VAR official at the 2020 MLS Cup final.

He has been on FIFA’s referee panel since 2015 and VAR panel since 2021.

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Canadian Alphonso Davies named to L’Equipe’s world team of the year

Canadian star Alphonso Davies earned another honour Monday, named to L’Equipe’s world team of the year for 2020.

The 20-year-old fullback from Edmonton is one of four current Bayern Munich players on the all-star team assembled by the respected French sports daily. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, midfielder Joshua Kimmich and striker Robert Lewandowski are also featured, as is former Bayern midfielder Thiago Alcantara, now with Liverpool.

Davies has already been named to the FIFPRO men’s World 11, the first North American to be voted onto the all-star squad by his peers. In 2020, he won the Champions League, Bundesliga title. DFB Cup and UEFA Super Cup with Bayern. He was named Bundesliga rookie of the year for 2019-20.

The L’Equipe world team also includes Liverpool defenders Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander- Arnott, Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Paris Saint-German forward Neymar.

There was no place for Barcelona star forward Lionel Messi.

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Alphonso Davies wraps up remarkable year by winning Lionel Conacher Award

Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies, who shone on soccer’s biggest stages in 2020, has been voted winner of the Lionel Conacher Award as The Canadian Press male athlete of the year.

Davies, who turned 20 on Nov. 2, won worldwide praise for his pace and athleticism at left fullback while helping Bayern fill its trophy case. Davies and the German powerhouse captured the Champions League, Bundesliga title, DFB Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 2020.

Individually the Canadian was named Bundesliga rookie of the season for 2019-20 and was voted to the FIFPRO Best 11 by his peers, becoming the first North American to make the men’s all-star squad. He is the third-youngest player to earn men’s World 11 status behind Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt and French forward Kylian Mbappe.

“It’s been a fantastic year for Alphonso,” said Canada coach John Herdman. “He’s flown the flag for Canada, he’s been a real bright spot on the sporting landscape in a time where we really needed some bright spots.

“And the awards are thoroughly deserved. He’s doing things at the highest level in the world game. And he’s Canadian, he’s from Edmonton. I think for all of us, it’s just something we can be proud of. And for those young players, it’s that reminder that anything’s possible, anything’s possible for a Canadian.”

Davies received 35 of 67 votes by sports editors, writers, broadcasters across the country.

“A Canadian at the pinnacle of world soccer? It doesn’t get much easier (of a pick) than that,” said Hamilton Spectator sports editor Jeff Day.

“Less than two years after last suiting up for the Vancouver Whitecaps, Alphonso Davies showed his talents on the global stage in the world’s most popular sport, eviscerating the Barcelona defence at one point in the quarterfinal as Bayern Munich stormed to a Champions League victory to complete a historic treble,” said Paul Attfield, sports reporter for the Globe and Mail.

1st soccer player to win the Conacher Award

Davies is the first soccer player to win the Conacher Award, joining such Canadian sporting icons as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe, Donovan Bailey and Ferguson Jenkins.

“A lot of great Canadian athletes have won it, so it’s an honour to be the first soccer player to do so,” Davies told The Canadian Press via email.

Kansas City Chiefs lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who won the Super Bowl in February before opting out of the 2020 NFL season after working in a long-term care facility in his home province at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic’s first wave, was second with 25 votes. Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray was the only other with multiple votes (three).

The choice of Davies completed a soccer sweep among the CP individual sports awards. On Monday, Canada captain Christine Sinclair won the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as the top Canadian female athlete. She also won in 2012, after leading Canada to Olympic bronze at the London Games.

The team of the year will be unveiled Wednesday.

Sinclair, a 37-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., has long been the face of Canadian soccer. Davies has joined her in rapid-fire fashion.

Herdman says Davies and Sinclair share more than just soccer skills.

“The one character trait that I’ve seen from both of them is a level of humility,” said Herdman. “But when they’re on the field, they are fierce, fierce custodians of this shirt and patriots of this country. You see that in their effort, in their desire to win and the passion they play with.”

It is to Davies’ credit that he has reached such heights on the field during such a difficult year.

“It hasn’t always been easy this year, not just for me, but for many people out there,” Davies said. “A lot of people are in much tougher situations than me and I am very fortunate to be where I am, so I try to remember that and stay humble whenever things feel tough.

“Playing soccer has always been an outlet for me, so being able to train and compete really helped, and I hope everything we accomplished at Bayern helped bring some joy into people’s lives.”

Davies was co-winner of the Lou Marsh 

Davies was also voted Canada Soccer’s Men’s Player of the Year and was co-winner with Duvernay-Tardif of the Lou Marsh Trophy, presented by the Toronto Star to the Canadian athlete of the year.

Davies turned heads in late February in Champions League action at Chelsea when he set up Bayern’s third goal with a lightning run down the left flank and cross to Robert Lewandowski for a tap-in in the 76th minute and a 3-0 win in the first leg of a round-of-16 showdown.

“Alphonso Davies is a world-class left back,” former U.S. international and current TV pundit Stuart Holden said on social media. “Top five in world soccer right now easy.”

In June, Davies was clocked at 36.51 km/h in the first half of a win over Werder Bremen, according to the Bundesliga. That erased the fastest recorded speed in league history (36.19 km/h by Dortmund’s Achraf Hakimi) since detailed data collection began in 2011.

Veteran Bayern forward Thomas Mueller dubbed Davies “the FC Bayern Road Runner,” referencing the speedy cartoon character.

In August, Davies stood out again in Bayern’s 8-2 beatdown of Barcelona in Champions League play in Lisbon. Davies set up Bayern’s fifth goal in the 63rd minute with a sensational run down the left flank.

The Canadian known as Phonzie eluded three Barca players, leaving Portuguese international Nelson Semedo in his wake before racing past several more defenders into the penalty box and sending a perfect pass to Joshua Kimmich to slot in from close range.

“`Best left back in the world!” tweeted Canadian international Ashley Lawrence.

With a winning smile and playful way about him, Davies has won a legion of fans on social media with 3.3 million followers on Instagram, three million on TikTok and 239,300 on Twitter.

‘We are all ready to make history for Canada Soccer in 2021’

Bayern rewarded Davies in April with a contract extension that runs through June 2025.

“Alphonso Davies is a player who has already achieved a high level of performance at a young age and at the same time still has great potential for development,” said Oliver Kahn, an executive board member and former star goalkeeper at Bayern. “Anyone who can consistently play at the top level at FC Bayern at such a young age can have a great career ahead of them.”

Davies is also a key player for Canada with five goals and seven assists in 17 appearances, playing both as a left back and winger.

Canada and Davies face a full schedule in 2021 with World Cup qualifying finally starting in March.

Davies says he is excited at what lies ahead for Canada.

“We have a lot of young, exciting talent coming through, players are playing in competitive leagues who are hungry,” he said. “And we are all ready to make history for Canada Soccer in 2021.”

Herdman is also looking forward to the future for Davies.

“We’re all proud of what he’s achieved this year. But I think we can see there’s still more to come. And that consistency now is probably Alphonso’s next big challenge. Can he repeat and can he take it to the next level?”

Davies was signed by Bayern from the Vancouver Whitecaps in the summer of 2018 in a US$ 22-million transfer deal, an MLS record at the time. He started to train with his new team in November after the end of the Whitecaps season.

Davies’ life story is inspirational. His parents fled their home in Monrovia, Liberia, to escape a civil war, ending up at a refugee camp in Ghana where Davies was born.

He came to Canada at the age of five.

Davies shared his story at the FIFA Congress in Moscow in June 2018 as part of the joint North American bid to host the 2026 World Cup. Canadian soccer officials credit his powerful presentation for helping push the bid over the finish line.

“It was a hard life. But when I was five-years-old, a country called Canada welcomed us in,” he told FIFA delegates.

It was not all roses for Davies in 2020. He tore ankle ligaments Oct. 24 in Bayern’s 5-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, returning to action Dec. 9 in Champions League group play against Lokomotiv Moscow.

Davies and Canadian women’s international Jordyn Huitema, who are a couple away from the pitch, had to endure racism. A photo of Davies, who is Black, and Huitema, who is white, on Instagram while enjoying a vacation in Spain drew more than 14,000 comments including some that were offensive.

Canada Soccer, Herdman, Canada women’s coach Bev Priestman and Bayern president Herbert Hainer all spoke out against the racism.

Away from the field, Davies has used his name to help the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a UN agency with the mandate to protect and help refugees.

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Canadian Alphonso Davies makes history by earning a spot on FIFPRO World 11

Canadian Alphonso Davies’ remarkable year continued Thursday when he became the first North American player ever to be voted onto the FIFPRO Men’s World 11.

It was a vote of approval from his peers. FIFPRO which represents some 65,000 pro soccer players worldwide, said 15,878 took part in voting for the 16th edition of the men’s World 11.

The 20-year-old Bayern Munich fullback was the first North American male to make the initial list of 55 players with the most votes. He went one better Thursday at the Best FIFA Football Awards, joining the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos on the World 11.

“Christmas came early this year,” Davies said on social media. “Thank you to everyone who voted for me. Keep working hard and chasing your dreams.”

Davies edged Bayern teammate David Alaba by 275 votes, the closest race in positional voting.

Davies 3rd youngest to be voted on team

Davies is the third-youngest player to be voted onto the World 11. French forward Kylian Mbappe was 19 years old when he was honoured in 2018. Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt was four days younger than Davies when he voted to the team in 2019.

Bayern teammates Robert Lewandowski and Joshua Kimmich also made this year’s top 11. So did Thiago Alcantara, who left Bayern for Liverpool after winning the Champions League.

Lewandowski, a prolific goal-scorer for the German champion, was named Best FIFA Men’s Player over Ronaldo and Messi. England defender Lucy Bronze, who joined Manchester City from France’s Lyon in 2020, took top women’s honours over Denmark’s Pernille Harder (Chelsea) and France’s Wendie Renard (Lyon).

It was a big night for Bayern. Manuel Neuer was named Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper while Hansi Flick was runner-up to Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp for Best FIFA Men’s Coach.

Club president President Herbert Hainer called it “a proud day for FC Bayern.”

“The fact that Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies and our former player Thiago were chosen for the World 11 shows the terrific overall performance of our team,” he said in a statement.

WATCH | Davies’ dash leads to audacious assist in Champions League quarters:

The defender is absolutely mystified by a series of hypnotizing moves by Alphonso Davies in a beautiful drive and dish assist. 1:31

Ronaldo and Messi were voted onto the World 11 for a record 14th consecutive year. Ramos made the team for the 11th time.

Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) received the most votes followed by Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker (Liverpool) and Ramos (Real Madrid).

Davies, from his left fullback position, has won worldwide praise for his pace and athleticism while helping Bayern fill its trophy case.

So far in 2020, he has won the Champions League, German league title, DFB Cup and UEFA Super Cup. He was also named Bundesliga rookie of the season for 2019-20.

Off the field he was voted the Canadian Men’s Player of the Year and was co-winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy, presented by the Toronto Star to the Canadian athlete of the year.

Davies returned to action last week after tearing ankle ligaments in Bayern’s 5-0 win Oct. 24 over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Canadian defender Kadeisha Buchanan, who plays for French powerhouse Lyon, made the list of 55 top women vote-getters for the FIFPRO World 11.

Buchanan was previously named to the inaugural FIFPRO Women’s World XI in 2016 as a 20-year-old — which also made her the youngest player voted onto the team.

The FIFA Awards also paid tribute to Canada captain Christine Sinclair for topping the all-time world goal-scoring list in 2020. The 37-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., now has 186 goals to her credit.

FIFPRO WORLD 11

Men

Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker (Liverpool FC, Brazil).

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool FC, England), Alphonso Davies (FC Bayern Munich, Canada), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool FC, the Netherlands), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, Spain).

MIidfielders: Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool FC/FC Bayern Munich, Spain), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium), Joshua Kimmich (FC Bayern Munich, Germany).

Forwards: Robert Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich, Poland), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona, Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, Portugal).

Women

Goalkeeper: Christiane Endler (Paris Saint-Germain, Chile).

Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea, England), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City/Olympique Lyonnais, England), Wendie Renard (Olympique Lyonnais, France).

Midfielders: Barbara Bonansea (Juventus, Italy), Veronica Boquete (AC Milan/Utah Royals, Spain), Delphine Cascarino (Olympique Lyonnais, France).

Forwards: Pernille Harder (Chelsea/VfL Wolfsburg, Denmark), Tobin Heath (Manchester United/Portland Thorns, U.S.), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal, the Netherlands), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign, U.S.).

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Canada Soccer condemns ‘hateful,’ racist comments made toward Alphonso Davies, Jordyn Huitema

Canada’s soccer body posted a message on Twitter on Saturday condemning ‘hateful’ racist comments directed toward Canadian national soccer team stars Jordyn Huitema and Alphonso Davies, who are in a relationship.

A photo posted to Huitema’s Instagram account in late August of the two players vacationing in Spain drew a flood of racist comments.

Canada Soccer posted that the organization “stands firm against racism and discrimination of any kind both in the game and around the world. We are appalled with the hateful comments made to members of our players through social media.

“Share love not hate and work together for a better world.”


Canadian national men’s team head coach John Herdman echoed the sentiment, posting a message on Twitter 

“We see the best in human nature from Alphonso/Jordyn two kids I’ve worked with and then the worst with the moronic comments from the small minority of humans that will just never get it. … ” Herdman wrote.


Davies, 20, was named the top Canadian men’s soccer player for 2020 and co-winner of the Lou Marsh last week. This past season he helped his Bayern Munich club capture the German championship and went on to become the first Canadian man to win a Champions League title.

Huitema, 19, signed a four-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain of the French Division 1 Féminine in 2019, and has seven goals in 27 appearances with the club.

WATCH | 2020 showed the whole of sports is greater than the sum of its parts:

Athletes around the world raised a collective voice in an unprecedented show of power. 5:03

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