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Who is Da'vian Kimbrough? The youngest pro soccer player in U.S. history

A kid born in 2010 has just made his professional debut in the United States. And we’re here for it.

Who is Da'vian Kimbrough? The youngest pro soccer player in U.S. history

If you haven’t heard of Da’vian Kimbrough yet, you will pretty soon.

13-year-old Da'vian Kimbrough made headlines on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023 after appearing for Sacramento Republic FC in the USL (United Soccer League) Championship as the youngest soccer player (and American athlete) to make their professional debut. He was substituted onto the field in the 87th minute in their home match against Las Vegas Lights. He sits 5 feet 9 inches in his first year as a teenager.

“I think I was a bit nervous at first before I got subbed on, but once I got on the field at the end of the day it’s just soccer, doing what I love,” said Kimbrough in a post-match interview.

‘Wonderkid’ in its purest form.

The youngest player debut record of 13 years, seven months and 13 days set by Kimbrough surpassed the previous record held by Axel Kei, who debuted for Real Monarchs SLC on a USL Academy contract at age 13 years, nine months and nine days.

This came only two months after signing his professional contract with the club — a contract signing that made him the youngest athlete signed to a professional contract in American team sports. This surpassed the previous record held by Máximo Carrizo, a 14-year-old that signed a contract with New York City FC’s senior team in 2022.

Kimbrough is destined for greatness in the world of soccer.

Though, at this point, you might be asking yourself… ‘how did young Kimbrough get to the point of becoming one of the most promising young talents in all of American sports?’ The short answer: Goals, goals and more goals.

Youth career

Da'vian Jaleel Kimbrough, born in Woodland, California, to African-American father Dom Kimbrough and Mexican-American mother Jessica Cervantes, joined Republic FC’s Academy in 2021 at age 11 — a few years after he began playing youth soccer with North Bay Elite FC and Woodland SC, two of the local clubs in his home county.

In his first season and despite playing up one division, the forward managed to scored a team-leading 27 goals in 31 matches, helping Sacramento’s U-13 side to the best record of any team in their age group in the entire nation.

The Sacramentan helped his team to 30 wins and just one loss in league play, including 27 consecutive victories from the start of the season. 

In his second campaign, Kimbrough and the U-14 squad finished top of the MLS NEXT division play with a 26-5-3 record, finishing the campaign with a +126 goal difference. 

Later and as part of the high potential training program — a program that encourages players’ promotion to older divisions based on their level —, Kimbrough would join the U-15 team for select matches.

In his two seasons playing in the MLS NEXT, Kimbrough scored 61 goals in 81 appearances. Insane.

After a successful MLS NEXT Flex tournament in 2023, Kimbrough was recruited to serve as a guest player at the Bassevelde U13 Cup, one of the most prestigious youth tournaments across the globe. 

Players like Thibaut Courtois, Memphis Depay, Kevin De Bruyne, Matthijs de Ligt, Charles de Ketelaere, Romelu Lukaku, Michy Batshuayi, Cody Gakpo, Dries Mertens and many other elite stars we see play today have participated in this high level youth soccer tournament.

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Up against some of the top clubs in the world – including clubs the likes of Juventus, West Ham and Benfica — Kimbrough managed to score six goals and was named the tournament MVP, leading New York Red Bulls Academy to be the first MLS club to lift the championship trophy.

He can do it anywhere.

What national team will Da'vian Kimbrough play for?

We’re looking at another player snatch battle between the United States and Mexico.

Kimbrough’s performances at the youth level, turning him into one of the most coveted talents in the world, quickly turned heads over at the national teams eligible of recruiting the youngster for international play, with Mexico making the first move over the USA to have the Californian-born wear their jersey.

In September, Kimbrough was called up by the Mexico U-16 youth national team for a training camp in preparation for an upcoming tournament — his first national team selection ever. His mother’s Mexican descent will allow Kimbrough to choose between playing for either the United States or El Tri.

Though, his participation with the Mexican national team at the youth level wouldn’t rule out the possibility of attending a future call-up from the UMSNT. Players who possess a duo-nationality that we see play for the United States today — Alejandro Zendejas and Ricardo Pepi — also played for Mexico at the youth level and even senior level before fully committing to wear the red, white and blue.

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At this point in time, Kimbrough has not made a decision over which national team he would like to represent. Though, the youngster and the Republic have shown gratitude over the opportunities given to the player at such a young age.

“Da’vian’s relentless pursuit of his goals has once again been rewarded with a tremendous opportunity,” said Republic FC Academy Director Eder Quintanilla. “His continued growth and development will be challenged, but his performance on the field during academy preseason and in first-team sessions have proven him worthy of a national team call-up.”

At 13 years of age, and with over four years left playing at 'the youth level', Kimbrough has time to make a decision and whole club career ahead of him, including a potential USL championship winning season with the Sacramento Republic — first in the Western Conference standings — in his record-breaking debut season.

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