A whirlwind week for Alphonso Davies ended with a two goal and two assist performance against Minnesota United to lead Vancouver Whitecaps to a 4-2 victory in a barnstorming match at B.C. Place on Saturday evening.
Davies put in a dazzling display as he wreaked havoc on Minnesota’s defence. The winner was scored by Kei Kamara, with Yordy Reyna getting a highlight goal for himself, while Minnesota got replies from Ibson and Abu Danladi, as the visitors staged a late rally with Vancouver seemingly home and dry and coasting to the three points.
Three matches in eight days were taking their toll on the Whitecaps, who made two changes to freshen things up. Davies was one of them, coming in to the attack alongside Anthony Blondell, with the Venezuelan giving the veteran Kamara a rest on the bench to begin the game.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 29, 2018
A fantastic goal and there was a lot more to come.
With less than five minutes to go in the half, the home side almost doubled their lead when Aly Ghazal sent a free header over the bar. Whether he tweaked his groin in that chance or tracking the run back, the Egyptian was to go off moments before half time with an apparent groin injury.
The Whitecaps doubled their lead 11 minutes into the second half when wunderkind Alphonso Davies took the ball at the top of box, completed some fancy footwork to get by a defender, and scored his fourth of the season.
A sublime goal from a sublime talent.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 29, 2018
About eight minutes later Davies would pick up his second assist of the night as he sent Kei Kamara in on Bobby Shuttlesworth and the striker, who had just been on the pitch for a minute, made no mistake putting the home team up by three.
Another great counter attack and finish, as the Whitecaps looked like night and day from the performance they put in down in Seattle just a week earlier.
Davies ➡ Kamara ➡ back of the net.
Where have we seen that before?
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 29, 2018
After a number of close calls where Marinovic was able to keep Minnesota at bay, the visitors finally got on the board in the 82nd minute thanks to a header from Ibson at the near post off a United corner.
Disappointing to give up the clean sheet, but even worse was to come five minutes later, as Minnesota got within one when Darwin Quintero squared the ball into the six yard area where Danladi had the easy finish past Marinovic.
Another two goals given up by the Whitecaps defence, but more worrying was the sudden momentum shift in favour of the visitors.
But just as it looked like Minnesota would be dangerous and a good bet to complete the rally, up stepped Davies once again, who after getting by a couple of the opposition, unleashed a rocket to get his second of the night.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 29, 2018
Minnesota nearly grabbed a third in stoppage time from Danladi, who fired inches past, but Vancouver held on for the three points. The Loons deserve credit for not giving up and staging a stunning fightback, and the ‘Caps will be disappointed at making life very difficult for themselves in the closing stages, but the positive certainly outweigh those negatives this week.
The last two performances are just what Vancouver needed after a run of poor results and efforts. Can they keep it going heading into a very difficult and busy August is what could very well be the difference between their playoff push getting back on track or falling off the rails altogether.
Thanks heavens for Alphonso Davies.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 4 – 2 Minnesota United
VANCOUVER: Stefan Marinovic; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Doneil Henry, Marcel de Jong; Cristian Techera (Brek Shea 77), Aly Ghazal (Felipe 45+2), Russell Teibert, Alphonso Davies; Yordy Reyna; Anthony Blondell (Kei Kamara 63) [Subs not used: Brian Rowe, Sean Franklin, Nicolás Mezquida, Jose Aja]
MINNESOTA: Bobby Shuttleworth; Miguel Ibarra, Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo, Eric Miller (Romario Ibarra 67), Ibson, Collen Warner (Collin Martin 82), Rasmus Schüller; Darwin Quintero, Christian Ramirez (Abu Danladi 68) [Subs not used: Matthew Lampson, Maximiniano, Alexi Gómez, Wyatt Omsberg]
On the performance:
I’ve got a little bit of mixed emotions. I thought the game was a really good game of football. A lot of good players on display and a lot of attacking talent. We got our noses in front, good goal. We go quite comfortably ahead. Then we make ourselves, set piece own goal, little bit of lack of concentration and they score again. We start to have a little wobble, but fair play to the supporters at the 86th minute, I heard them that’s what we needed they go behind us. We just calmed a few nerves, spoke with Rusty and Felipe about making the game dull, trying to play basic football as you call in then we get our fourth goal with a bit of magic.”
On significance of the game:
“Yeah it was a big game. I spoke with Adrian [Heath] after the game and during the game as you do. It’s a big game. They went ahead of us last week with a fantastic result. The league is very funny. You win games, you lose games, you are high and low and we knew it was a big game. They are fighting with us at the moment for that sixth place. We knew with a win, we go ahead of them. The performance was very good, I focus on the performance and it was very good. We get four goals, which was great. We don’t have a problem scoring goals at home, but we have to tidy up on the set-piece and the lack of concentration. They almost scored the third goal, which would have been good for the fans to watch but not good for the manager.”
On Davies starting the game:
“No. Obviously he is on cloud nine and I tried to bring him back pretty quickly and I said that if he plays and does well, and I’ll leave it for the other guys to decide if he done well, then he is buying dinner for everyone. So I’m sure he will be buying dinner for everyone. He was good, he looked a bit tired at the end. I wanted to keep him on because we missed him for two weeks, but I’m sure he’s got a big, big smile on his face. Maybe I’ll keep him away from the press today, that would be good.”
On his first goal:
“A good bit of skill, I thought we saw good bits of skills from a lot of players on the pitch. Their boy Quintero is a danger every time he got the ball, Yordy and the Bug looked like danger every time they got the ball. We know he is a wonderful talent, we know he’s got ability and potential but when he plays like that, it’s not potential, it’s reality. I know that, but I said to him before the game I decided to play him, I wanted a bit of freshness. Anthony did well to set up the second or third goal winning the ball high up the field. I think the first 20 minutes was as bad as I’ve seen him play, I think the emotions of the week or two weeks he’s had takes a toll on young players, so I kept him on and I’m glad I did.”
On Yordy Reyna:
“Phonzie will get all the headlines and rightly so but I thought Reyna was absolutely fantastic again. Last week I said he is the best player on the park and I thought he was again today. Yes Phonzie gets the goal, but Yordy scores one or two goals then he gets the headline. The Bug was great again, he should’ve scored two goals himself. We’ve gotten a good attack threats and they are playing with confidence and enjoyment. Yes, we got nervous and conceded two goals but that’s football.”
On carrying momentum over:
“That the million-dollar question. I see them train hard every day. They work hard, try to get better. The league is funny, I don’t like talking about other teams but you go through ups and downs. You go through three, four, five, six defeats in a row and you feel like you’re the worst team in the world and you win six and you feel like the best. It changes quickly. That is a top quality performance by the boys, I’m not making excuses to why we conceded two goals, but a lot of those guys played two games this week. No excuse but we did look a little leggy. That will be the question I need to sort out next week because we’ve got a big game.”
On the stretch of goals against:
“I’m not sure, I know it was a bad set piece. I think Stef made a great save on the cross shot, we defended the corner, had a poor clearance with the header, with the hook-on as you call it. So I was a little bit worried because usually when a team gets momentum off a set piece and another on, the third one people usually lose concentration and that’s what happens. Gave them a life line, they score the second goal when they pull it back in the box and got another one.”
On the game plan:
“As a staff you do your homework. They play three centre-backs. We watched them against LA last week, they scored five great goals, they concede one but could’ve conceded three or four because of the way they play. They play three centre-backs, the wing backs play nice and high, they got the two boys up front who are goal scorers. We knew if our shape was good, with two blocks of four, if we could win the ball in those areas. There is a lot of space and we are decent when we have space in front of us as you saw today and disappointed we scored four goals, we could’ve scored six or seven, but having said that, we could’ve conceded four.”
On Doneil Henry:
“He needs a coach who believes in him, who knows him inside and out and knows what his tendencies are. What he’s good at, what he’s not good at. He gets a bit lazy Wednesday night and that was a perfect example because he kicked the ball out of play, didn’t sort his feet out and I let him have it. Again today I let him have it because when I say that, I shout at him, because he needs to know because he’s been out for a while, but it was a big decision to play him again today because three games in a week when someone has been out for a long period of time, you want him to get through, he did ask me if he could have two or three days off after which is nice, his mind is in the game. He’s got great talent, part of the job sports side has got to do is keep him healthy. We’ve got a number of games coming up. Next week again and we got the Canadian Championship, we’ve got to make sure we don’t put him in any risk and I won’t do that with any of my players which is why Aly Ghazal came off as well.”
On team morale:
“Again, that is the question. When you have nights like these, it’s important you enjoy them and you take them in, but it’s also important you remember it’s three points. And that was the mindset going into the game and we knew it was an important game. We knew anything other than a win we knew it would be very difficult and it is going to be very difficult for us but if you can take care of your home games then it puts you in a chance and we’ve done okay at home. You know, the one disappointment was the Colorado, not the performance but the result. We played really well today at times, we scored goals and players were enjoying themselves. They wanted the ball and you have to go through a bit of adversity and the adversity today was conceding two goals in five minutes and they had a bit of a wobble up, but that’s normal, that’s how you find out about yourselves.”
On Jake Nerwinski:
“I think he continues to get better and better. I said to Jake he needs to believe in himself more because if he doesn’t believe in himself, how am I supposed to believe in him, so I challenge him on the daily basis on that and he probably thinks I shout a lot at him and I do. But he’s got to believe he is a top player because when he plays like that, he’s excellent to watch. I think he opened up his legs once or twice and put some fantastic crosses in and people can’t live with him, people don’t want to defend in those wide areas so he had a really good performance. Every single player deserves a lot of credit.”
On Alphonso Davies getting targeted:
“Yeah, 100 percent, but hopefully people do their jobs correctly and protect him. We talk about the Villa’s, the Giovinco’s, the Almiron’s, Martinez, Phonzie is in that category. We know that we are talking about a record transfer fee for the football club and in MLS from an unbelievable football club in Bayern Munich. They see the potential, when you see that, I actually think they got a snip.”
On a whirlwind week:
“It was amazing. Beginning of the week I got signed to Bayern as you all know and then coming on to the field with the club that took me in when I was little and I always try and help the team win.”
On playing on emotion:
“I love playing football, it’s my passion and being away for two weeks, sitting on the side, you’re itching to get on the field and when I got my opportunity, I took it.”
On the special evening:
“With all the big news going on and then coming back to Vancouver, I wanted it to be special. The team I think, we went out there and did our best.”
On having fun on the pitch:
“It was a great feeling, every time you play in front of your home fans you get a little buzz of excitement to go out and perform. Football is about enjoying the game and having fun, I think today we did that. Every time I step on the field I just want to have fun, I don’t want all the distraction in my head when I’m playing the sport that I love.”
On weight off his shoulders:
“It’s a weight off my shoulders with all the travelling and all the meeting and stuff. But coming on the field it’s just amazing.”
On Yordy Reyna’s performance:
“Yordy played well. He’s a good player. You know sometimes you just have to tell him ‘Yordy, come on.’ Yordy’s a good player, he’s amazing.”
On taking his game to the next level next year:
“I’ve been playing in the league for a couple of years now, I think this time is different because I think I have a little more confidence on the ball and off the ball. Every time I step on the field I try and do my best for the team – every time I get the ball I want to be positive.”
On first goal:
“When I got the ball, I wasn’t thinking about what was going to happen ahead, I think in the moment I just did it. I waited for the defender to make his first move and then I think the drag really sold that. Marcel does that the whole time and it works, so I thought, why not, so I did it, got past him and put it in the back of the net.”
On physical play against former WFC player Michael Boxall:
“I didn’t even know he played for the Whitecaps! I tried to get past him, he’s a big boy and I’m kind of small. So, he bodied me and I was going to turn around and walk away but then he shoved me and I was like ‘whoa, what’s going on.’ I think they’re trying to go at me in the game, I’m not sure they were but it looked like that.”
On being a marked man:
“No, I’m not concerned. It’s a man sport. As a kid coming into a man’s sport, I’m expecting that so, I’m ready for it, I’ll take it on. I just try and do what I do”.
On the upcoming MLS All-Star Game:
“I’m excited. I’m expecting the best players in MLS and Juventus, Italian giants, it’s going to be amazing, I’m really looking forward to it.”
On Alphonso Davies:
“He was good, we know Alphonso is quality. In certain areas, he exploited all his potential – we know that he is very quick so he did a good job for the club.”
On the win:
“Three points are huge for us at this moment, because it helps us to keep believing and keep trying to get into the playoff as soon as possible. We know it is not easy but winning, I always say, brings happiness so today we are happy.”
On having to serve suspension due to yellow card accumulation:
“Well, we know that we have a lot of players that work hard every day and it doesn’t matter who is going to play, everyone is going to try their best to win that game.”
On the difference tonight:
“To be honest, every time we have that hunger but sometimes it can show a little bit more than other days and obviously today we scored four goals so everything is good, but to be honest, we have to clean up some other things and hopefully we can keep improving by winning.”
On his partnership with Doneil Henry:
“Good, Doneil is a great guy, he’s very aggressive, we have great communication. It’s always nice to play with players like him.”
On shoring up the defence:
“It’s part of the game. Today, we were talking about having a clean sheet, we didn’t get it, but at the end what matters are the three points.”
On tonight’s result:
“I thought our football was good. Defending was poor and concentration levels were poor, and discipline was poor. Our possession of the ball, and trying to do what we’ve been asking of them, I was quite pleased with some of them. But as I’ve said to the players in there, and I’ll repeat, and I’ve said it a few times this year, if we keep conceding the goals we do, we’re never going to give ourselves the chance to win games on the road. It’s as simple as that. The kid Davies had a great night. He’s a special talent. But when you look at the first goal, people diving in and not staying on their feet, and a couple of individual stuff from him, but in between the goals, I thought we were actually the better team. We got beat 4-2.”
On missed opportunities:
“It’s one of the oldest sayings in football, you have to score when you’re on top, when you’re having your moments on the road. Goals change games. I thought we were sitting really comfortably then next minute, Yordy Reyna gets a goal from nothing really, and then you’re always chasing a little bit. When we got back to 3-2, even then, we managed to be four against one, and the guy gets the ball and they end up scoring again. We had four defenders against one guy. But we keep making the same mistakes. Sorry but we can’t keep doing it.”
On taking solace on late comeback effort:
“A little bit but I expect that. They’re an honest bunch but if you look at this game today, there’s been nothing in it apart from bits of moments from Alphonso Davies that changed the course of the game. We’re not winning too many on the road conceding four. That’s one thing I do know.”
On tonight’s result:
“I don’t think Bobby had too many saves in the first half. And we created a few chances ourselves, we didn’t close down the opposition player at the top of the box and we go down 1-0. We let ourselves down getting exposed a little bit on the counter and that’s what really hurt us tonight.”
On Alphonso Davies:
“What can I say that hasn’t been said. I think he’s got a massive future and it’s really up to him how far he goes. He’s got a great opportunity ahead of him and all the best. I think first half, he didn’t cause too much trouble. I think every time I was up against him I kind of won the ball or stuck with what he was trying to do. With him, if you stay on your feet, you give yourself a chance and then just lapse of concentration. And diving in, in the second half, and if you do that as he’s shown in the season and if you dive in like tonight, he’s going to make you pay.”
On concentration levels:
“I think every telling goal was kind of where we give the ball away needlessly, and then when we are out shape like that, we see pictures we’re not used to, and we make bad decisions and we definitely did that this evening.”