Liberian prodigy Alphonso Davies leads Whitecaps into CONCACAF Champions League semis over NYRB

Davies and the Whitecaps are moving on to the final four. (The Canadian Press via AP)
Davies and the Whitecaps are moving on to the final four. (The Canadian Press via AP)

Alphonso Davies is the truth.

If you’ve watched his Vancouver Whitecaps at all in the last six or so months, you already knew this. The Liberian-born refugee only turned 16 four months ago, but he plays with the confidence and composure of a man twice his age. And he looks bemused doing it, as if he doesn’t have any earthly idea what the big deal is.

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He got the first goal in the second leg of the Whitecaps’ 2-0 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal win against the New York Red Bulls in Vancouver on Thursday. After the first leg ended 1-1 in New Jersey, the win comfortably put the Canadians through to the semifinals – even though they also held the edge on away goals.

Just five minutes in, Davies demonstrated the remarkable polish in his game. Marcel de Jong’s cross was misplayed by Kemar Lawrence, who failed to clear it. Davies picked the ball up, feinted and scored simply at the near post.


The Red Bulls’ ever-reliable goalkeeper Luis Robles kept his team in the game in the first half. In the 25th minute, Kekuta Manneh was in on goal but put his blast right at Robles. That chance, by the way, had been created by Davies, who won the ball outside of his own box, traversed a wide swath of grass, and then teed up his Gambian strike partner.


A while later, Manneh set up De Jong with an overhead kick, but Robles saved very well yet again.


The Red Bulls finally began to threaten in the 41st minute. Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted denied Bradley Wright-Phillips from point-blank range on a nice rehearsed set piece.


The Red Bulls consolidated their attacking efforts in the first phases of the second half. But Daniel Royer was just denied by Ousted on a header and then the Austrian winger’s little nod from close range seemed to have trickled just over the line, but he was rightly called offside.

Vancouver would nevertheless get the next goal. In the 76th minute, Red Bull captain Sacha Kljestan didn’t clear a loose ball off a corner and Fredy Montero – the one-time Seattle Sounders striker who is back in the league after spells in Portugal and China – smashed it so hard Robles could do nothing.


The Red Bulls, now necessitating two goals from an attack that had gone cold again, never came close to getting half that many. In fact, Davies threatened to add a third with his speed and indefatigability.

The Whitecaps will attempt to finally become the first Major League Soccer team to win this tournament and break the 11-year run by Mexican teams as champions. So will FC Dallas, for that matter, which beat Panama’s Arabe Unido 5-2 on aggregate on Wednesday to reach the final four as well.

FC Dallas will now face Mexican side Pachuca, while Vancouver will do battle with Tigres in the semifinals in two weeks.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

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