Catching up with Kyle Davies
By the time defender Kyle Davies graduated from U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program at the age of 17, he was already sure that his future was waiting for him in Southampton, England, signing a contract with the Championship side that would keep him overseas until the age of 20.
The defender says his relationship with Southampton dates back to the beginning of his time in Residency. He traveled with the U-17 team to England for a tournament, and instantly caught the eye of the team scouts in attendance. He decided to finish high school in Bradenton, Fla., before making the move overseas.
Born in California to English parents, Davies didn’t need to worry about securing a work permit before making the move, but international rules still said that he had to wait until he turned 18 before appearing in any games or receiving a paycheck. He moved to Southampton in February of 2007 and celebrated his 18th birthday that April.
“I was training with the team, but obviously was kept out of the game day lineup. It wasn’t exactly disheartening, but sometimes I wondered why I didn’t just stay home and wait until the summer to come over,” the now 19-year-old admitted. “In the end though, it did end up helping out a lot. When I came back this season it felt like I had already been there and gotten to know everybody, so that made it easier.”
Like many young Americans who move overseas, Davies took some time to adjust to all the novelties, including a new team, life and city. He admits that getting to know people outside the team was difficult, but has since become comfortable in his new surroundings and even picked up a very slight English accent.
“It’s a bit scary once you realize that you’re actually living there and it’s not a vacation,” said Davies. “But then you start to get to know people, and meet people outside of football and that makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you live there and belong there.
“Sometimes I get a little jealous of the MLS guys who get to stay home and play. Especially when I’m playing with the reserves and trying to break through, watching all my friends play on the first team in the States. But really, I’m happy with the direction I went.”
Transitioning to life as a professional player in Europe, Davies has also been one of the most experienced members of Under-20 Men’s National Team camps as the team prepares for the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
“The time with the Under-20s has been fun,” he said. “Living in England I don’t get to see the guys I was in Residency with very often, so when we get back together it’s like a big reunion.”
His time with U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen helped him earn a place at the Toulon International Tournament with the Under-23s and head coach Peter Nowak. Though he has yet to make a first-team appearance for his club, he credits his training at Southampton to his national team opportunities.
“Training with the first team is a big step up from where I was before I came over,” he said. “I was a bit nervous at first coming into this camp because I don’t know a lot of the guys, but at the end of the day we’re all good players playing on the same team. Training has been going well and we’ve all adjusted to each other on the field as we’ve gotten to know each other off the field.”
Next up for the young defender after Toulon is a true off-season. With about a month off from training in Southampton, he will head home to California to relax. There, he’ll stay fit and prepare for either another national team camp, or head back to England in July.
As for his long-term plans, Davies hopes he can stay in Southampton after his initial contract expires at the end of next season. Otherwise, he hopes to find another squad in England.
For now, Davies is trying to make the most out of his opportunity in Toulon, with new coaches and new teammates. He knows that this tournament can only enhance his national team experience and help build toward the next Championship season.