VANCOUVER â€” He is just a teenager but Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Alphonso Davies proved he belonged on a field of men.
Davies scored one goal and helped set up another as the Whitecaps defeated the New York Red Bulls 2-0 Thursday night to win their CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final series.
Colombian striker Fredy Montero, one of Vancouver’s prized off-season signings playing in his first game as a Whitecap, scored the other goal with his first shot in the 76th minute.
Vancouver wins the two-game aggregate series against their Major League Soccer rival 3-1.
The Whitecaps now face Tigres UANL of Monterrey, Mexico, in the Champions League semifinal beginning in mid March. Vancouver opens on the road, then returns home for the second game in the first week of April.
Davies, a 16-year-old who grew up in Edmonton, scored a pretty goal in the fifth minute, battling past a New York defender and tucking the ball into the corner of the net. That brought a huge roar from the crowd of 14,183 at BC Place Stadium.
Davies was like a whirlwind on the field, making pin-point passes to other players and coming close to scoring again a couple of times in the second half.
Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson, who has been careful not to heap too much praise on Davies’ young shoulders, liked the poise and combative spirit shown by the teenager.
“He did OK,” said Robinson. “He was one of a number of players who were outstanding today.
“His understanding of the game for someone so young is phenomenal. He was outstanding. You run him ragged and there’s still lots more to come.”
New York coach Jesse Marsch said Davies caused his team all kinds of problems.
“The kid was great,” said Marsch. “He was dangerous all night, he fought hard. It was fun to watch.
“I wish we had dealt with him a little better. You guys have a fun player to watch here.”
Davies wasn’t available for interviews after the game.
On Montero’s goal, Davies sent a corner kick into the box. Defender Tim Park flicked the ball into Montero’s path and he drilled a right-footed shot past goalkeeper Luis Robles.
Montero substituted into the game in the 67th minute and seemed to develop some early chemistry playing with Davies and Brek Shea, who the Whitecaps obtained in a trade last Saturday with Orlando City FC.
“It’s growing,” said Montero. “We’re starting to know each other better and better.
“This team has a lot of speed. When we counter attack it’s really dangerous. We tried to do that today.”
Montero was impressed with how Davies attacked on offence but still managed to defend.
“You can see today how hard he was running to the front and the back to defend,” he said. “He’s good. He has a lot of qualify.
“We need to take it easy with him. He’s going to get more experience with the games. He has to keep doing when he’s doing.”
Vancouver controlled most of the first half but the Red Bulls found their legs in the second half. That forced the Whitecaps defence to be sharp while goalkeeper David Ousted made a couple big saves.
Robinson was happy with his team’s performance.
“There was a lot of very exciting performances,” said Robinson. “I think we thoroughly deserved the victory. Every single player, including the subs, put in a massive shift.
“You have to do that against a really good team.”
The teams battled to a 1-1 draw in the opening match last week in Harrison, N.J.
The CONCACAF Champions League features the top teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The Whitecaps will probably be underdogs heading into semifinal, which suits Robinson fine.
“I like proving people wrong,” he said. “It’s going to be a massive game, a really difficult game against a top-quality team. We won’t be scared. We will be fully focused.”
The Whitecaps open their MLS season Sunday at home against the Philadelphia Union.
NOTES: Midfielder Cristian Techera (red card) and forward Erik Hurtado (yellow card accumulation) didn’t dress. â€¦ They were replaced by Shea and Marcel de Jong. â€¦ The Whitecaps are the third Canadian team to reach the CCL quarter-finals after Toronto in 2012 and Montreal in 2009. â€¦ No MLS team has won the CONCACAF Champions League.
Jim Morris, The Canadian Press