It was a dream ending for Alphonso Davies in his final match for Vancouver Whitecaps as he scored twice in the first half and led his first professional team to a 2-1 victory over Cascadian rivals Portland Timbers.
Even a last minute goal from Andres Flores to deprive Vancouver of the clean sheet couldn’t take the shine off an emotional afternoon, but as great as it was to send Phonzie off with a win, the lasting frustration of being just one win away from a playoff place still looms large.
Vancouver started strongly with the opening 10 minutes seeing the ‘Caps get two top notch chances to open the scoring.
The first one saw Doniel Henry getting denied on a header by Jeff Attinella and then Yordy Reyna missed on a shot from just outside the six yard area.
Then the man of the hour decided to put on a display as a little reminder of what we’re going to miss watching in person in the years to come.
Just before the half hour mark Davies picked up the ball five yards before the center of the pitch and proceeded to dribble it to the top of the box where he unleashed his shot past a diving Attinella to open the scoring.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 28, 2018
A few minutes later saw Davies display his quick instincts as he caught Timber defender Marco Farfan flat footed, stealing the ball from him in the box and getting his second brace of the season.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 28, 2018
The Timbers started the second half on the front foot but weren’t able to create enough quality chances.
However it was the ‘Caps who had the better chances, including one just before the hour mark when Kei Kamara forced Attinella into making a save off the header.
In the 67th minute, with the crowd coming to their feet to honour the departing homegrown, Davies almost bundled in the ball for the hat trick but the keeper was able to get down and deny the wunderkind his glory.
A minute later Reyna skimmed a shot off the bar from outside the box after being set up by sub Felipe.
The ideal ending to the story of this match almost came in 85th minute when Davies’ replacement Simon Colyn, making his MLS debut at 16, made a perfect run taking a pass from Felipe to go 1v1 with the keeper but chipped it narrowly wide, missing the net.
It looked as though the ‘Caps would earn the clean sheet but in the 90th minute Portland would get some consolation when Flores tapped in a low cross to get the visitors within one.
But even this late crumbling defence couldn’t ruin the special night as the Whitecaps went on to pick up the three points and send Davies off to Bayern with a memory filled afternoon.
However with the win there was also an overall frustration with the season was there as they finished 8th in the Western Conference, one win from making the playoffs. So many what ifs could be dated here, but that’s for another time.
Despite the disappointment with the way 2018 went for the ‘Caps, the night belonged to Alphonso Davies and his farewell to the 25,000 plus that filled BC Place. Once again he proved that he was the best player on the pitch and could have easily scored and set up a couple of more goals in the second half.
He will now take his next step in his evolution in his journey to Germany and while it won’t always to be smooth, there is no doubt that the young Canadian will take the challenge head on and with a smile on his face.
Fare ye well Phonzie.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 1 Portland Timbers
VANCOUVER: Stefan Marinović; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Doneil Henry, Brett Levis; Aly Ghazal; Yordy Reyna (Nicolás Mezquida 78), Russell Teibert, Jordon Mutch (Felipe 64), Alphonso Davies (Simon Colyn 86); Kei Kamara [Substitutes not used: Brian Rowe, Erik Hurtado, Brek Shea, Aaron Maund]
PORTLAND: Jeff Attinella; Alvas Powell, Julio Cascante, Bill Poni Tuiloma, Marco Farfan; Cristhian Paredes (Sebastián Blanco 74), Lawrence Olum; Dairon Asprilla, Lucas Melano (Jeremy Ebobisse 80), Andrés Flores; Samuel Armenteros (Andy Polo 66) [Substitutes not used: Steve Clark, Zarek Valentin, Tomás Conechny, Larrys Mabiala]
On Alphonso Davies
“Alphonso has something about him, he just has a knack to continue to prove people right. To score two goals, he should have maybe had three or four, he had electric energy in the game. He wanted to thank everybody with a performance, he had so much pressure on him this week, he was struggling a little bit with all the attention, I don’t mind saying that. But the way he handled it, just fantastic, fantastic person and obviously a great talent.”
On if it is usual for Alphonso to give the team the pre-game speech to the team:
“No, but it was fitting for today, obviously. But again it’s just something he took on the chin and delivered a nice little inspirational speech.”
On the five games he’s taken on as acting first team head coach:
“That regardless of age, players need to be coached. That’s what I took from it. And they want to be coached, they want to be led. They’re hungry for information, they want to work for a collective cause. It was challenging for me, of course because it was short term like you said. But five performances, seven points. Against Sporting KC maybe if we hold on for five more minutes, we get a point or three out of that game and now we’re talking about being in playoffs. I’m please with our collective efforts as a staff over five games, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time doing it. It’s been challenging, but I’ve enjoyed it.”
On what he takes from the experience back to the role as academy director:
“We constantly talk to young players about focusing on the process, rather than the outcome, and getting into a routine, understanding who you are, understanding what makes you tick, understanding how you get to a certain level of motivation for a game without focusing on extrinsic factors: fans, money, cars, whatever. And this group needed that too. And they did it very well today. So the best athletes and the best teams focus on the process as opposed to the outcome, and I think they achieved that today.”
On 15-year-old Simon Colyn making his MLS debut:
“There is a spark, he’s a talent. He’s an extremely intelligent footballer. He’s not Alphonso, and we don’t want him to be Alphonso. He’s Simon Colyn and he has different qualities. He’s physically not where Alphonso was when he came into the group. He needs a little more maturation and time. But his intelligence on the field; the senior players were begging me to get him in, not just today’s game but earlier games because they see real talent in him, a real belief. And there’s more Simon Colyns in the pipeline. The future over the next five to 10 years, the young players coming through the system is very bright.”
On perfect ending:
“It’s a perfect ending and the team got the three points and I’m able to help to get two goals.”
On what he did last night:
“No, I was actually watching Fortnite before I went to sleep so, that was running through my mind.”
On his final game:
“As a 15-year-old kid making his debut, from start to finish the fans have always supported me. When I got the news that I was signing for Bayern Munich, I just wanted to make things special because I was off the field for a while and I was missing it. So then, coming into this game, knowing it was my last game for Vancouver I just wanted to leave with a positive feeling.”
On standing ovation:
“It was like déjà vu, it was like when I first made my MLS debut, Nico came off the field. And now, I’m ending my career here, Simon’s stepping in, almost scored, I would have run on the field.”
On timeline moving to Bayern:
“I’m going to Edmonton for a couple of days to see some family and friends and then we have a national team game in St. Kitts and I think afterwards I’m heading over there.”
On teammates making it extra-special:
“The team is an amazing team, ever since I started training with them they’ve always supported me and always had my back. And playing my final games here, they just wanted to give me the ball as much as possible and do what I do and I couldn’t thank them more for pushing me every day in training and also off the field as well and teaching me other professional habits.”
On making his MLS debut:
“It was exciting. I was obviously very excited to be out there, just to experience it. Once I got out on the field I kind of just forgot about everything and just focused on keeping the ball and passing it to my teammates. It was exciting to get out there.”
On whether he knew if he was coming on:
“No. He said I’d be on the bench but he said just be ready for anything so it wasn’t guaranteed, but I was ready for anything like he said.
On what he was thinking last night:
I wasn’t fully sure, I didn’t want to hope too much, I was just thinking everything because I didn’t know exactly what would happen”
On if he felt it was a passing of the torch coming on for Alphonso Davies:
“Yeah, I thought that was a pretty cool moment. Obviously I am what he was a couple of years ago, so it’s obviously something that I aspire to be like him. It was a cool moment I think.”
On Alphonso Davies:
“I’m super proud of Alphonso. I know you guys are too. Couldn’t have ended better than it did. He played outstanding. I’m happy that it was a good night for all Whitecaps fans. It was a good night for us. We get the victory, obviously we conceded again in the final minutes because we’ve done that all season long, but it’s a good day to be a Whitecaps fan and a Whitecaps player.”
On how frustrating it is to finish one win away from playoffs:
“It all just comes down to the discipline of the team. That’s an honest assessment. If we cut out some of the things we let go early on, we wouldn’t have been consistently scored on in the final minutes of each half. And just like today, and that’s just a discipline thing. That’s something that cannot happen again. That’s something we need to eradicate going into next season.”
On the ‘Caps core players:
“There’s a great core group of guys here. When you see what’s on the field, and I’m around them training all the time, there’s a great group of guys, a great group of men, and I’m not talking about athletes, I’m talking about people. There’s a great group of people in that locker room. That’s the most important thing to build around. That’s the foundation. Talent, your ability on the field, they’re all extras. We have a good group of guys in that locker room. That being said, we didn’t make the playoffs this year so some things need to change, and they will change, but that’s the nature of the business.”
On playing again after missing time due to injury:
“It felt great to end the regular season on the field. I picked up a couple injuries and I’ve been working really hard to get to this point. For me personally it just felt great to be back out there with the guys. Health wise I feel good, which this is the first 90 [minutes] I’ve made in a little bit. Health wise I fell good, I felt like my timing was pretty good and I had a couple good saves. But at the end of the day I’m just happy to be back out there.”
On the importance of getting a start right before the playoffs:
“It was everything. I was dying to get back out there. Steve [Clark] has done a great job, and he did a great job in the home game versus Salt Lake. But when you’re sitting there watching you’re dying to get out there. I’m appreciative that Gio gave me the game, and hopefully I did well. Getting prepared for the playoffs is always an important thing, so I feel like I’m there.”
On conceding two first half goals to Alphonso Davies:
“On the first one he did what he does. He drifted across the middle and he got a good shot, maybe I could have got a better hand to it. On the second one Marco [Farfan] just made a mistake, and he capitalized on it. He’s a really good player, but at the end of the day I’d also like to give Marco a lot of credit because towards the end of that second half it felt like we were playing a game of FIFA [videogame] where they were just chipping the ball into him and he was just putting his head down and sprinting. I thought Marco held his own, and our whole backline I felt like we held our own and did a good job.”
On the feeling knowing that with a win they would have had the four seed:
“We’re in the playoffs. Hindsight is always a great thing, but at the end of the day Dallas just played a tough game in Colorado at altitude, and our big guys were sitting down and relaxing. So I think we’re in a great spot. We’re a team that has gotten results on the road this year, and I think we feel pretty confident going into it.”
On today’s performance:
“I think overall, the performance was good. In some parts of the game, we had the control but in the second half, it was wide open for both teams. It was a different game from the first half. Those two goals that they scored in the first half hurt us a little bit, but overall, it was a good game.”
On momentum going into the playoffs:
“We had momentum in the second half, I think we found the spaces that we didn’t find in the first half, and that gave us more opportunities to score. It was a shame that we didn’t find the goal until the last few minutes but the good thing is we keep fighting and we found it in the end.”
On the upcoming matchup versus FC Dallas:
“It will be tough for sure but the playoffs are a different thing. All the effort that we put during the season, now it’s the reward that we’re in the playoffs. Now we have to go down there and play our game and try to win it.”
On Alphonso Davies:
“We all know that he’s a very good player. He has a very good future and he showed today. He’s capable of doing a lot of good things. I hope he does great in Germany and I wish him great luck.”