USMNT fans, rejoice: A 13-year-old baller just made his pro debut & now we feel old AF
Brace yourself for this, because you’re going to feel dizzy after it – a 13-year-old born in 2010 has just made their professional, senior football debut in the United States’ USL Championship.
Born in 2010. Really. As in, born way after Big Brother was at its peak. 13-year-old Da’vian Kimbrough was little over a month old when the Undertaker retired Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 26. A month old.
Not a big enough punch in the gut for you? Here’s the killer blow. Kimbrough was born in the same year that Toy Story 3 was released, and the same year that the iPhone 4 was unveiled. Sickening.
You get the idea by now. Not only is it mindblowing on so many levels that someone born in 2010 is now making their senior bow in professional football, but it goes to another level when you realise that the kid is barely a teenager.
When you’re making 16-year-old Lamine Yamal sound like a veteran, you know it’s serious.
So, who exactly is Kimbrough and just how good can he be?
Born in California but holding dual citizenship with Mexico, the teenager joined the Sacramento Republic FC academy in 2021, but immediately showed his talents by ripping it up as an 11-year-old playing under-13 level, bagging 27 goals in 31 games during his first season.
It got even better the following year when he ripped it up in the MLS Next competition and was subsequently invited to feature as a guest player for the New York Red Bulls’ youth team in June this year.
That tournament – the Bassevelde U13 Cup – included youth teams from some of the biggest names in Europe, Juventus, Benfica, West Ham and Celtic to name a few, but Kimbrough fired the Red Bulls to victory and bagged six goals in the process, picking up the MVP award.
Naturally, that prompted the Sacramento Republic to offer their star boy professional terms, with a queue of major clubs around the country now aware of the talent they had on the books and inevitably looking to snipe.
Freddy Adu is the name that immediately springs to mind upon learning Kimbrough’s story, the ‘next Pele’ embarking on an infamous journeyman career after debuting with DC United at age 14 in 2004.
But the US has had the chance to learn from its failures with Adu and others like him in the time since. Besides, Kimbrough is good. Like, really bloody good.
A forward by trade – but highly malleable given his age – Kimbrough’s highlights are pretty hard to come by right now, but clips from training tell us a lot.
"It’s the epitome of what our football club is, trying to produce local talent that have the opportunity to represent this crest."
— x – Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) August 10, 2023
The teenager seems to possess a wicked technical ability for his age and has been seamlessly integrated into Republic FC’s first team setup following a careful progression path designed in collaboration with his parents, in order to monitor his technical and physical development.
It’s the little things like the one-touch passes, those sharp body feints and turns and his ultra-comfortable manner on the ball around a squad of experienced professionals which stand out. All the parts that we don’t have, which is why our career nosedived to midweek five-a-side quicker than Kimbrough’s turned professional.
“There’s no need to heap that kind of pressure on him,” Said Republic FC president Todd Dunivant to The Athletic in August.
Interestingly, Dunivant was on the pitch when Freddy Adu made his debut, and drew on his timeline to avoid falling into similar pitfalls: “The pressure (Adu was under) is not fair to anyone at that age, and we won’t put that on Da’vian.
“He is going to go at his pace, and it’s our job as a club to set him up for that through a development plan that continues to challenge him in the right way and puts him in positions to succeed.”
A long way to go would be an understatement and there’s absolutely no pressure for Kimbrough to become a star, but the minerals are there for him to enjoy a professional career.
By Mitch Wilks