Canadian soccer history was made Sunday. In the 85th minute of a match between Germany’s Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart at Munich’s Allianz Arena, the referee held up the substitution board that showed Alphonso Davies’ number, 19.
Seconds later, the 18-year-old former Vancouver Whitecaps player became the first Canadian national team member to play for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga when he came on for French winger Kingsley Coman to help close out his team’s 4-1 victory. Davies was not only the first Canadian to play for Bayern, but also became the seventh youngest player to make his Bundesliga debut in the last 20 years. Ultimately, however, the young Canadian had very little influence over a game that was already wrapped up.
Davies, however, was not the only North American to make his debut. About 400 miles north-west of Munich, in Düsseldorf, former New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams was handed his starting XI debut by RasenBallsport Leipzig head coach Ralf Rangnick.
Ahead of the game, there was plenty of attention on the young American. Just before kickoff, the camera focused in on his seemingly nervous face while he was awaiting the start of the game in the player tunnel. Once on the pitch, however, Adams showed no signs of nerves during the full 90 minutes he played of Leipzig’s 4-0 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf.
💬 'Just go out there and be yourself' – Ralf Rangnick, probably.
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) January 27, 2019
“Tyler had a fantastic game! In the first half, he won almost every duel. He was very good, for a young player in his first game in a new league and country,” teammate Poulsen later told reporters at the match.
The 19-year-old completed 80.7 percent of his passes, played one key pass and won the most duels of any player on the pitch. Furthermore, he covered 7.2 miles during the match, more of the pitch than any other player in the game.
Newly-promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf has been a tough opponent at times. In the first half of the season, they took a point from Bayern Munich in a 3-3 draw and defeated Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at home. Leipzig was, therefore, warned to take the match seriously.
In the end, Leipzig turned in an impressive performance — no small thanks to Adams. Within 16 minutes, Leipzig was up by three, thanks to goals scored by Yussuf Poulsen (minutes 2 and 16) and Ibrahima Konaté (minute 9). Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer added the fourth in the 68th minute.
For Davies’ Bayern, a fifth-minute strike by Spanish midfielder Thiago provided an early lead. Stuttgart got back into the game when Anastasios Donis made it 1-1, but an own-goal by Christian Gentner (55′), a header by Leon Goretzka (71′) and a goal by Robert Lewandowski (84′) sealed Bayern’s triumph
With the game wrapped up, Bayern head coach Niko Kovac decided the time had come to unleash Davies. The attacking-winger later took to Twitter to speak about his debut.
— Alphonso Davies (@AlphonsoDavies) January 27, 2019
“Great result today….happy to make my Bundesliga debut,” Davies said through his official Twitter account.
And as for Adams? As it is often the case with teenagers, he was somewhat shielded from media by RB Leipzig. But while he did not speak after the match, his actions on the pitch said everything.