Most 15 year-olds get their fair share of teasing, however for WFC2’s Alphonso Davies, the jabs he has been receiving aren’t the same as most 15 year-olds. Davies became the youngest player in USL history on Sunday, which put the ‘Caps up 3-0 to the visiting Los Angeles Galaxy II, enroute to a wild 4-3 win.
“All the guys have been telling me, ‘when are you going to get your first goal?’ and I always tell them every single game that I’m going to get it,” said Davies following the match. “It was a big relief.”
In what was billed as a top of the table clash in the Western Conference, it was one way traffic to open the game in favour of the home side. Three minutes in Kadin Chung’s low cross was tapped in by Kyle Greig for his first of two on the night. The surge from the ‘Caps continued on from the early goal as they possessed the ball with the poise and purpose of a team riding high on confidence and in the standings. After another long spell of possession, which again included intricate work down the right wing from Chung, Grieg was able to tap in his seventh of the year after a pinpoint low cross from Daniel Haber in the 17th minute. Five minutes later Davies finally had his opportunity to silence his teammates.
After tormenting Galaxy II right back Oscor Sorto for the first twenty minutes, Davies got the better of him one last time as he nicked the ball off of the defender deep in Los Angeles territory before coolly sliding it past the onrushing Clement Diop.
“I was kind of debating whether I should go over [the keeper] or tap it in,” recalled Davies. “But if I had gone over [Diop] probably would have saved it since he’s a tall keeper so I just went low.”
As is often the case with a big lead, WFC2 seemed to let up after Davies goal. The visitors, playing without the services of the USL’s leading scorer Jake McBean, finally seemed to get a foothold in the match as the game reached the half hour mark. In the 35th, through a bit of good fortune, they would have their breakthrough as Vancouver’s Sean Melvin was caught off his line on a lofted free kick from thirty yards from Jose Villareal. It was the first goal Melvin had conceded this year after keeping clean sheets in his previous two starts.
The rookie keeper would have to quickly put it behind him as the Galaxy II carried their momentum through halftime and would force Melvin into two fine saves in the opening minutes of the second half.
“[Melvin] made probably one or two mistakes today but he made some fantastic saves to keep it tight,” said Alan Koch.
The visitors would keep coming however, with Villareal wasting a glorious chance high before Brett Levis was forced to head a looping shot off the line in the 51st. The missed chances would come back to haunt LA as Levis restored the three goal lead in the 81st by burying a rebound after Marco Bustos’ was denied in close.
Showing the fight of a team that is near the top of the standings, Los Angeles would make things interesting at the end. Denzal Slager slammed one into the top corner in the 84th before Villareal converted a penalty early into stoppage time but the comeback would fall short as the ‘Caps prevailed with the three points.
“We were very very good for the first thirty minutes, we did a great job of moving the ball, scored some great goals, and then I think we too the foot off the pedal a little bit,” said Koch. “There’s obviously two sides to that, we slowed down a bit but give [Los Angeles] credit, they picked their game up, started to believe in themselves a little bit more.”
By holding onto the three points, Vancouver ensured that Davies’ special day would not be spoiled, and perhaps more importantly the teasing might die down for a little while, even from his coach.
“We joke with him a little bit about scoring obviously goals but for a 15 year old to come in and do what he’s done so far, we’re ecstatic,” said Koch. “And to go out and score a big goal like that, that’s through the roof, and we’re very very happy for the kid.”
The win moves WFC2 into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference, two points up on Los Angeles but with three games in hand. The ‘Caps are back in action on May 20 when the travel to Portland to play Timbers 2.
Image: WhitecapsFC/Bob Frid