A sparse crowd was on hand at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City to watch the Vancouver Whitecaps book their ticket past the group stage of CONCACAF Champions League Play, as they prevailed over Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on Tuesday night. The fans and players had to endure a lengthy weather delay in the first half, when storm clouds rolled into the area. Despite the delay, it was an entertaining affair that saw an outstanding performance from young striker Alphonso Davies.
The Whitecaps went with a mixture of youth and veterans in the starting 11, with the young Spencer Richey getting the start in the cage. Richey has some CCL experience this season, as he earned a clean sheet versus Central FC in August. Cole Seiler figured in on the backline along with usual suspects Tim Parker, Kendall Waston and Marcel De Jong. The attack featured Pedro Morales, Alphonso Davies, Erik Hurtado and Nico Mezquida, with Fraser Aird and Andrew Jacobson starting in the midfield.
In the first 45 minutes the two teams both started slowly, feeling each other out. Sporting Kansas City seemed to have the advantage through the first ten minutes with a few extra chances, however, the Whitecaps attacking duo of Davies and Hurtado were able to keep SKC defenders off balance with some speedy runs that helped turn that tide.
Davies in particular looked very dangerous as he worked at both ends of the pitch. In addition to a couple of impressive runs, Davies was also a force pressure the KC defenders in their own end. Other Whitecaps looked fired up, determined to follow the lead of the speedster, and started coming in hard on the SKC defenders to try and force turnovers in their own end. Any momentum the Whitecaps were gaining was stilted a few moments later though, as both teams took a break for the weather delay.
They would soldier on about 2 hours later, as would a few dedicated members crowd. They certainly couldn’t have been happy with what transpired a few minutes after play resumed, as Vancouver would go up 1-0 on an absolutely beautiful goal. Davies started the play, rushing up from midfield and working a give and go to open up some room. Then, Davies played a perfect ball to Hurtado, who tapped it in for the easy goal and the first half lead.
Hurtado is known to score his goals in bunches, and it looks like 2016 is no exception to that rule. That’s good news for the Whitecaps, with the home-stretch very much here.
After a brief break, the two sides returned to the pitch for the second half, and this time it would be SKC that would return with a goal. In the 55th minute, Diego Rubio found some room to work in the box and fired home the equalizer.
Two minutes later, it looked like Fraser Aird would re-take the lead for Vancouver, but his in-close shot was parried away by Tim Melia.
The heroics wouldn’t come until stoppage time, when Alphonso Davies scored the go-ahead goal and pushed Vancouver past Group C.
Alphonso Davies; Definitely worth the delay.
The Whitecaps would wait out the final minutes of stoppage time to hang on for the final score. Next up, the club takes on Seattle on Saturday.