Why is Alphonso Davies not playing for Canada in World Cup qualifying?

1 year ago 153

When Canada boss John Herdman named his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Honduras, the United States, and El Salvador, one name remained absent from the list. While the absence was expected, it remains glaring.

Alphonso Davies will not be available for Canada in this international window as he continues to recover from his battle with COVID-19 earlier this month. In the aftermath of his positive test, Bayern Munich announced a diagnosis of "mild myocarditis," or inflammation of the heart. Canada followed, announcing that Davies would miss the entirety of the international window.

Playing with such an issue could be dangerous, and therefore Davies will sit out indefinitely to recover, with no timetable for his return announced.

MORE: How long will Alphonso Davies be out?

"I don't think there's going to be any excuses from us in this period of time," said Herdman on the announcement of his squad, with Davies absent. "I think we've shown we're strong, we're resilient. This is going to be tough, but qualifying for a World Cup is never easy."

What was said?

With Davies out, the Canada head coach said he's disappointed to be without one of the team's best players, but they will have to trudge on without his services at this point.

"Firstly, we wish Alphonso the best of health and hope he recovers," Herdman said to OneSoccer in Canada. "We can't deny that it's a big loss on a number of reasons. He's such an infectious personality when he's in the camp, and you miss him when he's not here. But we have to adapt, it's part of this story.

MORE: How Canada can qualify for the World Cup

"We've been on this World Cup qualification journey since March of last year, and we've had a lot of ups and downs with players coming in and out, and we've responded and I think that's key to all this. There's a mentality in this group that these things are going to happen, and it's an opportunity now for someone else to respond and make sure that we stay on track to qualify for the World Cup."

How long is Alphonso Davies out?

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann told reporters on Jan. 14 when offering an update on Davies: “Yesterday, during our follow-up examination that we do with every player that has had COVID-19, we detected signs of mild myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.

“He has stopped training for now, so he won't be available to us for the next weeks.

“This myocarditis isn't too dramatic based on the ultrasound, but more simply signs of an inflammation. Nevertheless, it needs to heal and that will no doubt take some time.”

According to a report at the time citing the player's agent, Davies was expected to be out at least four weeks, which would see him return to Bayern Munich training in early or mid-February.

Alphonso Davies leading Canada in World Cup qualifying

There's no debating Davies' importance to how Canada plays, and his absence will be felt no matter who steps in.

MORE: How Mexico can qualify for the World Cup

Davies has appeared in every match throughout this World Cup qualification cycle except one, missing September's 3-0 win over bottom-feeders El Salvador due to knee problems. He has played the full 90 minutes six times, and past the 80th minute in five others.

In his seven appearances in the Hex, Davies has a goal and three assists, while Canada has three wins and four draws in the matches he's played. Expanding that to both stages, he has five goals and eight assists across all of World Cup qualifying. The Maple Leafs have not lost through this World Cup qualifying cycle, including a perfect six wins out of six from the previous stage to qualify for the Hex.

Alphonso Davies' rise to stardom

The 21-year-old burst onto the scene with MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps, making his debut for the club as a 15-year-old in the 2016 season and going on to make 66 appearances for the side. Davies truly came to life in the 2018 season, scoring eight goals and assisting on 10 more across 31 appearances.

That caught the attention of European giants, and he completed a switch to Bayern Munich in January of 2019 for $11 million. That has proven to be a bargain for the Bundesliga side, as Davies has become an important piece of a Champions League title contender.

Across two-and-a-half seasons, Davies has collected four goals and 10 assists, and has been mentioned among the best fullbacks in the world. He was on pace this season to see more on-field minutes than he did in either of his first two campaigns with Bayern, but the recent diagnosis will likely scupper that effort.

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