Whitecaps stay grounded as buzz keeps building around "electric" Davies

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps are in pole position in their hunt for a sixth Canadian Championship final in the past seven seasons, and Alphonso Davies is at the wheel.

The young winger was the star of Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact at BC Place in the first leg of their semifinal series, grabbing the opening goal and setting up the second in a dazzling first-half display.

"He was outstanding," midfielder Russell Teibert said of his fellow Canadian. "But there's so much more to come. I think we're going to start seeing that week in, week out."

Davies first came to prominence with his call-up to the 'Caps squad for last year's Canadian Championship matches. They helped earn him a MLS deal and one year on, he put in what was arguably his best performance for the Whitecaps so far.

"He was one of a number of players that done very well," 'Caps coach Carl Robinson said after the match. "He found space, he was direct, he was positive. He gets his goal, and Nico [Mezquida] gets his goal from him being positive as well. He was a threat."

Davies has yet to score his first MLS goal, but has really risen to the occasion with his performances and goals in the Canadian Championship and CONCACAF Champions League. He was not made available to media after Tuesday’s match, but his teammates were more than happy to extol his performance.

"He was electric in the first half," said Vancouver goalkeeper Spencer Richey, who put in a Man-of-the-Match performance himself, saving a penalty and then coming up with a clutch goalline save in stoppage time. "He had the crowd going. We had a lot of momentum in that first half, the crowd was buzzing.

"Fonzie was huge for us. When he goes on those long runs and beats guys, they might not always come off, but guys feed off that and the fans do as well. So it was awesome."

The Whitecaps have worked hard to protect Davies as much as they can under intense media attention. Robinson made it clear he'd love the media to let Davies develop without all the hype, but performances like he put in against Montreal make that harder and harder.

It also brings interest from elsewhere. Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi told Vancouver's TSN Radio before the game that Manchester United, and other clubs, has been in "contact" about him, but there was nothing "concrete" yet.

"Listen, good players are wanted by teams," Robinson said. "He's only 16 years of age and he's playing in the first team. I'm not trying to protect him for any other reason than I want the boy to develop ... and enjoy his football.

"When you build players up, unfortunately then there comes a time when you knock them down, and the young boy has to learn. I want to protect him for his own good, for Canada's good, for everyone's good. And at the right time, something will happen, no doubt about it."