The Vancouver Whitecaps hosted Minnesota United at BC Place, after advancing to the final of the Voyageurs Cup (Canadian Championship) on Wednesday evening. The two biggest questions was what types of changes would Carl Robinson make after the victory Wednesday night, and whether Bayern Munich’s new player, Alphonso Davies, would feature in the match. Not only would Davies feature, he would start the match, and dominate as per usual.
Vancouver would start the match in the familiar, of late, formation of 4-4-1-1. However, it surprisingly featured Anthony Blondell starting up top, in place of Kei Kamara, and no Felipe Martins in the center of the park.
Within the first minute, the Caps were faced with a bit of an injury scare, as Ghazal went down. He would continue in the match, and have a fantastic header opportunity later in the first half, but ended up being subbed out just before half time.
The Vancouver Whitecaps opened the scoring in the 35th minute, thanks to a lovely bit of footwork by Yordy Reyna to weave through the Minnesota United defense. It was certainly a fantastic goal, although it must be said that the Loons defending was pitiful, with everyone taking a half-step into Reyna, but none ever fully committing.
The Whitecaps headed into the half-time break with a 1-0 lead, looking like a completely different squad this week than the one we saw last week in Montreal and then Seattle.
To begin the second half, the Whitecaps continued their strong play while the Loons continued to make half-hearted defensive plays. Davies doubled the Caps lead in the 56th minute, completely undressing the Loons defense, and showing all the newly watching Bayern fans what they have to look forward to in January.
I hear that this kid is pretty good. Not bad footwork I guess…
Minnesota seemed to unravel slightly, bringing their centerbacks forward for a corner kick, only to play it short and then cough the ball up to Yordy Reyna. With Davies galloping down the field, Reyna slid it to him, and let the kid do his magic. Davies charged at the Loons defense, then calmly and coolly, passed it to a wide open Kei Kamara, who had just entered the match for Blondell, who slotted it past Shuttleworth as he hurdled the diving keeper.
Despite being down 3-0, credit to Minnesota who continued to push forward and try to claw their way back. If not for some fantastic saves from Stefan Marinovic, the match could have been closer than it was.
Nevertheless, the Loons constant pressure was rewarded in the 82nd minute, off a set-piece. They followed that up with some great work from Darwin Quintero, and his teammates, in the 87th minute, to draw the Loons back within one.
At this point, I am sure most Whitecaps fans were nervous. The Caps have not exactly been confidence-inducing.
Of course, who should come and calm the nerves of fans, like myself, but the young star Davies, who casually makes a trailing run in the 89th minute and calmly slots it home from the penalty spot.
Pressure? What pressure?
Davies finished the night with two goals and two assists, at times walking around the Loons defense as if they were not even there. After setting a record MLS transfer fee, you might say Bayern got a steal!
The Whitecaps leapfrog United into 7th place in the West, and are now 5-2-4 at BC Place this season. While they are still one point out of a playoff spot, it is worth nothing that they are only four points out of 3rd (optimist). The Caps will now make the transcontinental flight to New York to face Manchester City’s B-Team.
What were your thoughts on the match?