The offseason acquisition everyone has been talking about and the youngster ready to captivate a league powered the Vancouver Whitecaps into the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday night, with a 2-0 (3-1 aggregate) win over the New York Red Bulls at BC Place.
Sixteen-year-old phenom Alphonso Davies, who looked like a player with years of experience under his belt out on the field, handed the home side an early lead in the fifth minute on a shot from close range. Davies was involved in a challenge with Kemar Lawrence on the left side of the penalty area, and the youngster patiently waited for the ball to come to his feet before slotting past Luis Robles.
Nine minutes after entering the match, new Whitecaps forward Fredy Montero delivered the final blow to the Red Bulls’ hopes of continental success with a strike from the middle of the box. The former Seattle Sounder worked his way into space off a corner kick and had plenty of space to fire his first Whitecaps goal past Robles.
The attack of the visitors took a hit early on, when Gonzalo Veron limped off with an injury in the eighth minute. The core of Sacha Kljestan, Bradley Wright-Phillips and substitute Derrick Etienne weren’t able to create consistent threats in the final third. Winger Daniel Royer was the only Red Bull to test David Ousted with a pair of shots on target.
The Whitecaps, who open their MLS campaign on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union, will face Liga MX side Tigres in the final four of the Champions League. FC Dallas will take on Pachuca in the other semifinal, with the first leg of that round set for the week of March 14. As for the Red Bulls, they’ll head to Georgia for a Sunday showdown with Atlanta United at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Man of the Match
Davies put many on notice that 2017 could be his breakout season in the Pacific Northwest with his performance over 90 minutes against the Red Bulls. He scored the opener, and worked for the corner that produced the second tally.
Moment of the Match
Montero’s 76th-minute strike not only secured his club’s spot in the semifinal round, but it also gave Whitecaps fans a taste of what is to come during the league season.
Match to Forget
Most of the Red Bulls attack will want to forget the second leg in Vancouver, but it was a rough one especially for Wright-Phillips, who failed to put a shot on target in a game where the Red Bulls needed to record an away goal.
BTW — someone forgot to tell Vancouver Whitecaps that Soccer America ranked them #20 in the MLS pre-season power rankings. Red Bulls were #2 and are “oozing with talent.”
I hate to say it but games like these when you need you best players to step up and they don’t is why i believe Sasha Klejstan is not the guy to pull the strings for the USMNT. He’s an decent player with some ability but far too often he doesn’t create like you’d expect him too in the moments you need him to. And if anyone wants to use the excuse that he’s not in game shape yet etc, etc i call bull crap on that when you consider he was with the US team for several weeks and played in a friendly as well with the team so he should be in better form than everyone else if we’re being honest!
“I hate to say it but games like these when you need you best players to step up and they don’t is why i believe Sasha Klejstan is not the guy to pull the strings for the USMNT. He’s an decent player with some ability but far too often he doesn’t create like you’d expect him too…” — Agreed. The common denominator is the pressure that comes along with meaningful matches,…tournament type pressure. Not to mention missing important PKs in important matches! Perhaps it’s a case of 1) opponents raise their level in playoff/tournament matches and 2) Sasha ‘wilts in the heat’ of heightened expectations.
They need a talented, true #10 to take the pressure off him. Sasha is a very good complimentary player. This would be some team with a Nic Lodeiro or Mauro Diaz,…or Juan Mata (pure fantasy!).
Disappointed RB fan as well….RB is missing two things primarily, 1- a player who can martial the midfield, organize the group (i.e. Dax not Sasha not Felipe)…I think we will miss him more than expected (I hope I’m wrong) and 2- a player that can take a shot from distance. No one in the current set up has done it; maybe Grella once. Need some shooters to draw the defense out. VAN just sat back and pressured the ball. And waited for the counter opportunity that was going to come.
Needing a goal going into the 2nd leg of a series…how many time has this played out in the last two years (Columbus, Montreal, now VAN). It will continue to happen until Marsh can figure out how to break down a defense…..
Disappointed Red Bull’s supporter here. Would have liked to see them face off against a good Mexican squad in a meaningful match,…at least.
Veron is a bust! Pity they missed the buyout deadline of March 1st.
Klestjian needs to step up,…if he can.
I really appreciate what they have done with team continuity and developing youth team players,…but they really need a impact DP signing.