Thrilling win sends Whitecaps FC to CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals

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Alphonso Davies

KANSAS CITY, KS – Knock another first off the list.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC (CCL: 3W-0L-0D) made history on Tuesday night at Children’s Mercy Park, defeating Sporting Kansas City (CCL: 0W-2L-1D) 2-1 to secure their first-ever CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final berth.

And they did so in dramatic fashion.

Alphonso Davies, 15, scored the game-winner in the third minute of stoppage time, capping off a long night that included a two-hour weather delay in the first half.

It was Davies’ first goal as a member of the first team.

He also helped set up Erik Hurtado’s second goal in as many games in the 41st minute, which was also Hurtado’s second goal of this year’s CONCACAF Champions League.

The ‘Caps finally have their first win in Kansas City. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

They still have one more Champions League game remaining on September 28 at home vs. Central FC, which is important for quarter-final seeding. But the hard part is done.

“It’s a great, great opportunity for us as a club,” Davies told whitecapsfc.com. “We’re making history getting to the quarter-finals. It was a fantastic experience for me. I’m happy I was able to help the club take that step forward.”

Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson opted to make 10 changes to his starting XI after Saturday’s win in Columbus, which also had a lengthy weather delay. The only player who started both matches was Costa Rican centre back Kendall Waston.

Sporting KC, meanwhile, changed their entire starting lineup from Friday’s draw vs. Houston.

And they looked in control early.

In the first 10 minutes alone, Connor Hallisey launched a volley just over the goal, Diego Rubio sent a low strike just wide of the far post from the left side of the box, and Cameron Porter redirected a Tyler Pasher cross over the goal from close range.

From there, the ‘Caps began to settle into the game. Davies, in particular, looked lively with his pace on the counter. Robinson’s side weathered the storm, if you will.

Until there was lightning.

Play was halted in the 35th minute with lightning approaching, resulting in a two-hour weather delay as the heavens opened. The ‘Caps picked up where they left off when play finally resumed.

And in the 41st minute, they scored the game’s opening goal. What a goal it was.

First, Davies made a fantastic run down the left before playing a one-two with Nicolas Mezquida at the top of the box. Davies then sent in a cross to Hurtado, who tapped in his second goal of the competition to put Vancouver ahead.

Rubio responded for Sporting KC early in the second half.

The Chilean showed some fancy footwork in the box before firing a low strike off the far post and in, drawing the game level in the 55th minute and setting up an exciting conclusion.

Vancouver had all sorts of chances in the dying stages.

KC had a couple too, forcing WFC2 goalkeeper Spencer Richey into a couple big saves, including a diving stop off a Hallisey shot/cross in the 90th minute.

The rest is history.

In the 93rd minute, substitute Kyle Greig – another call-up from WFC2 whose home state is Kansas – picked up a loose ball at the edge of the box before laying it off to Davies. The youngster unleashed a left-footed strike that found the back of the net after taking a big deflection off a defender.

Whatever works. It was a bizarre night – and a historic one too.

“It’s very nice,” Robinson said. “We didn’t come here to try and get a tie, we came here to try and win the game. You see us at the end of the game, Peter [Vermes] and his team are trying to win the game and we are trying to win the game as well by pushing numbers forward and trying to catch them on the counter attack.”

“We created a bit of history for the football club today,” Robinson added, “so we’re delighted.”

Next up for Whitecaps FC is a massive Cascadia derby with Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday at CenturyLink Field (1 p.m. PT on TSN1). Both teams are fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The ‘Caps have two more points, but Seattle has two games in hand.

The CCL quarter-finals will take place between February 21 and March 2, 2017.

MATCH DETAILS
Attendance: 13,422
Referee: Ricardo Montero

Scoring Summary
41′ – VAN – Erik Hurtado (Alphonso Davies)
55′ – SKC – Diego Rubio (Seth Sinovic)
90′ + 3′ – VAN – Alphonso Davies (Kyle Greig)

Stats
Possession: Sporting KC 53.9% – Vancouver 46.1%
Shots: Sporting KC 11 – Vancouver 12
Shots on Goal: Sporting KC 2 – Vancouver 7
Saves: Sporting KC 5 – Vancouver 1
Fouls: Sporting KC 11 – Vancouver 18
Offsides: Sporting KC 1 – Vancouver 1
Corners: Sporting KC 7 – Vancouver 8

Cautions
73′ – VAN – Andrew Jacobson

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
39.Spencer Richey*; 14.Cole Seiler, 4.Kendall Waston, 26.Tim Parker, 33.Marcel de Jong; 8.Fraser Aird (46.Brett Levis 68′), 77.Pedro Morales ©, 17.Andrew Jacobson, 67.Alphonso Davies; 11.Nicolás Mezquida (27.Blas Pérez 72′); 19.Erik Hurtado (47.Kyle Greig* 87′)

Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 6.Jordan Smith, 30.Ben McKendry, 32.Marco Bustos

*WFC2 call-up

Sporting Kansas City
29.Tim Melia; 7.Chance Myers (16.Seth Sinovic 29′), 3.Ike Opara, 55.Amer Didic, 77.Tyler Pasher; 6.Paulo Nagamura ©, 35.Ualefi, 23.Emmanuel Appiah; 39.Cameron Porter (50.Kris Tyrpak HT), 9.Diego Rubio, 22.Connor Hallisey

Substitutes not used
25.Alex Kann, 4.Kevin Ellis, 17.Saad Abdul-Salaam, 24.Ever Alvarado, 93.Soni Mustivar

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