VALE OF GLAMORGAN, WALES – Alphonso Davies had two goals and Kekuta Manneh had three assists as Vancouver Whitecaps FC concluded their United Kingdom preseason tour with a 4-0 win over Bristol City FC U-23s on Thursday afternoon at Hensol Park.
Jordan Harvey and Nicolas Mezquida also found the back of the net for the ‘Caps, who will now head back to Vancouver after posting a 2W-1L-0D record in Wales.
“They’re both very young, excellent players who get people off their seats,” Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said when asked about Davies and Manneh. “Those two in the first 45 minutes showed that they’ve got a good combination, what their strengths are, and they played to their strengths. They ran hard, which is important, they managed to get themselves in right areas, and they obviously scored a couple of goals, so I was pleased with both of them.”
“Having said that in the second half as well I was pleased with Cristian Techera, who looks like his old self again in that 45-minute cameo,” Robinson continued. “Obviously we’ve got Giles and Nico coming on as well, who are key players for us. Competition for places, that’s what I need.”
Robinson fielded an identical starting XI for the third straight match on Thursday, featuring goalkeeper David Ousted, a back line of Jake Nerwinski, Tim Parker, Christian Dean, and Harvey, a midfield duo of Matias Laba and Andrew Jacobson, and an attacking foursome of wingers Davies and Marcel de Jong, and forwards Erik Hurtado and Manneh, who again played centrally as a withdrawn striker.
And Manneh looked particularly lively in the early going.
In the ninth minute, he showed some fancy footwork in the box, resulting in a point-blank opportunity for Davies. And just a minute later, Manneh played in Harvey after some nice interplay with de Jong on the left before the left back banged it into the top corner to give Vancouver the lead.
Manneh was at it again in the 12th minute.
This time, he released Davies into space with a perfectly-weighted throughball before watching the 16-year-old calmly finish from close range. And they weren’t done there.
After creating another opportunity in the 17th minute, Manneh and Davies combined for a stunning 39th-minute tally. Manneh started the play on the left side of midfield, flicking the ball over a defender before switching it across the park to Davies on the volley. Davies then took a couple touches into the middle before firing a heavy strike into the bottom right corner.
It was one for the highlight-reel, that’s for sure.
Robinson made four changes at the 46-minute mark and three more around 60 minutes, introducing centre back Kendall Waston and attacking midfielder/forward Giles Barnes for the first time this preseason. The ‘Caps didn’t miss a beat, with Mezquida and Techera looking particularly dangerous going forward.
The Uruguayan duo combined for Vancouver’s fourth and final goal in the 63rd minute. Techera beat his man to the endline before laying it off to Mezquida, who finished first time from the centre of the box.
It was one-way traffic for the most part on this afternoon, though Bristol’s U-23s did get stuck in on a few heavy tackles and threaten on a few set-pieces.
After 10 days in Wales, the ‘Caps now return to Vancouver on Friday, where they will train on Monday, February 6 before heading to Portland for the annual Timbers Preseason Tournament.
Whitecaps FC open their 2017 campaign against New York Red Bulls in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals (Leg 1: February 22 at Red Bull Arena, Leg 2: March 2 at BC Place). They will then face Philadelphia Union in their MLS opener on March 5 at BC Place.
9′ – VAN – Jordan Harvey (Kekuta Manneh, Marcel de Jong)
12′ – VAN – Alphonso Davies (Kekuta Manneh)
39′ – VAN – Alphonso Davies (Kekuta Manneh)
63′ – VAN – Nicolas Mezquida (Cristian Techera)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted (70.Paolo Tornaghi 63′); 28.Jake Nerwinski* (30.Ben McKendry 80′), 26.Tim Parker (33.Francis de Vries* 80′), 22.Christian Dean (4.Kendall Waston 46′), 2.Jordan Harvey (35.Daniel Lovitz^ 80′); 8.Andrew Jacobson (31.Russell Teibert 46′), 15.Matias Laba (32.Marco Bustos 80′); 67.Alphonso Davies (11.Nicolas Mezquida 46′), 23.Kekuta Manneh (9.Giles Barnes 60′), 17.Marcel de Jong (13.Cristian Techera 46′); 19.Erik Hurtado (47.Kyle Greig 60′)
* Unsigned MLS SuperDraft selection
^ Unsigned camp invitee