It might just be the best day of his soccer career so far.
Saskatoon’s Brett Levis signed a contract with Major League Soccer club Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday. He then played that night in a 3-0 win over Kansas City.
Levis was involved right from the start of the game – going the full match at left-back and set the tone early on with a perfectly-timed slide tackle.
It’s not that long ago Levis was starting for the University of Saskatchewan, where he played from 2011-14. His progression comes as no surprise to Huskies head coach Bryce Chapman.
“I rarely miss one of his games and it is impressive just what he has done in the last six to eight months,” said Chapman, who first noticed Levis when the player was in grade nine.
During his time at the U of S, Levis was known for his offensive prowess. He holds the school’s all-time record for assists and is second on the career goals list.
Since joining Vancouver, he has seen himself shift from an attacking midfielder into a defender. While some players may resist a change to their game, Levis took it as a chance to impress.
“Brett is a great example of a player who took his opportunity,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson.
“With Whitecaps FC 2, he showed skill and versatility, and the willingness to learn and adapt to a new position. When given the chance to train and to play for the first team, he’s taken full advantage of it.”
While it was a whirlwind day, it wasn’t a surprise for Levis to make the jump to the big club.
He has spent the season with Vancouver’s second team and was called up earlier this summer to make his first team debut against English Premier League side Crystal Palace. Levis registered an assist in a 2-2 tie back on July 19.
There have been other soccer players from Saskatchewan to play professionally, but what makes Levis unique is he spent all of his developing years in his home province.
“He grew up in Saskatoon, he played here and is a true born and raised Saskatchewan kid,” said Chapman.
The last player from Saskatchewan to sign with an MLS was Rosetown’s Rob Friend, who grew up in Kelowna, B.C. Regina-born defender Drew Beckie was drafted by the Columbus Crew in 2013, but didn’t make any appearances for the club.
Levis is signed with Vancouver’s first team into the 2017 season, with options for both 2018 and 2019.
While not taking any credit for his former player’s success, Chapman said it’s exciting for players in Saskatchewan to have someone local to look up to.
“We’re just excited to be a part of this journey.”