The Vancouver Whitecaps were set to place one foot in the door of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, but a late goal from teenager Alphonso Davies allowed them to walk right in.
Davies, a 15-year-old attacker, scored in the 93rd minute to push the Whitecaps to a 2-1 road win over Sporting Kansas City in a CCL match on Tuesday night. The victory at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, saw Vancouver take Group C with a game to spare, and made them the first MLS club to reach the knockout rounds of this edition of the tournament. Sporting KC were eliminated with the result.
Davies fired home the winner and opened his account with the Whitecaps in stoppage time of a match that was delayed two hours because of poor weather. The match was postponed in the 35th minute due to nearby storms, but Vancouver forward Erik Hurtado opened the scoring shortly after play resumed with a low finish in the 41st.
Kansas City equalized through an impressive Diego Rubio strike 10 minutes into the second half, but they needed a win to avoid elimination. They did not get the victory or even a draw, as Davies struck in the game's dying moments.
The triumph moved the Whitecaps to nine points from three matches. Sporting KC and Trinidad & Tobago side Central are unable to catch up, as they each have just one point with only two Group C games remaining.
- 41' -- VAN -- Erik Hurtado (Alphonso Davies, Nicolas Mezquida)
- 55' -- SKC -- Diego Rubio (Seth Sinovic)
- 90+3' -- VAN -- Alphonso Davies (Kyle Greig)
- Full box score
- YOUNGSTER SHINES BRIGHT: Even before he scored the late winner, Alphonso Davies was arguably the best player on the field. The Vancouver Whitecaps youngster was fearless when he got on the ball, repeatedly attempting to beat Sporting Kansas City defenders on the dribble or hit dangerous passes in behind. There were times where he did not play quickly enough and got himself into trouble, but his 93rd-minute strike capped what was an overall impressive performance from the 15-year-old Canadian rookie.
- LESS THAN BEST: You probably would not have been surprised to see Sporting KC lose this one if you had caught a glimpse of their starting lineup before kickoff. There was no Benny Feilhaber. No Matt Besler. No Dom Dwyer. Peter Vermes went with a reserved-filled starting XI, one that included multiple players from USL affiliate Swope Park Rangers, and it proved costly. Kansas City did put up a good fight, especially in the opening 20 minutes of the first half, but it was not enough to avoid elimination.
- WET AND WILD: The two-hour weather delay was certainly not fun, but what ensued was. After the game resumed via a throw-in in the 36th minute, the two teams played much more aggressively and openly. Whether that was because of the wet conditions or because the gameplans had been thrown out the window is unclear, but it all resulted in a number of chances for both clubs, as well as some entertaining back-and-forth action.
- SKC: Sunday, Aug. 18 vs. LA Galaxy (2 pm ET, FOX in the US and MLS LIVE in Canada)
- VAN: Saturday, Aug. 17 at Seattle Sounders (4 pm ET, TSN1 in Canada and MLS LIVE in the US)