VANCOUVER — Alphonso Davies showed why he landed a record-breaking transfer deal Saturday, dazzling the home crowd as his Vancouver Whitecaps beat the Minnesota United 4-2.
The 17-year-old Canadian international midfielder put up two goals and two assists in his homecoming. He’d missed Vancouver’s three previous matches as negotiations took place over his US$22-million transfer to German soccer giant Bayern Munich.
It was a much-needed MLS win for the Whitecaps (8-9-5), who went into the game two points behind United (9-12-1) and out of a playoff position in the league’s Western Conference.
Whitecaps forward Yordy Reyna opened the scoring in the 35th minute, getting a pass from Davies and weaving through a cluster of United players before sailing a ball past Minnesota keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
It was Reyna’s fourth goal on the year and just one of several plays where he calmly controlled the ball through heavy traffic to get in scoring position.
Davies followed suit in the 55th minute, waltzing into the Minnesota box, dancing around United’s defenders and popping one into the net.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 29, 2018
The goal, assisted by Vancouver forward Anthony Blondell, elicited a standing ovation from the crowd.
Ten minutes later, Davies got into clear space and passed off to striker Kei Kamara, who easily tapped the ball in, making it 3-0.
The pair celebrated with one of their classic synchronized dances below the goal line.
The second assist was Davies’ 10th of the year, putting him just two back of Pedro Morales for the club’s regular-season record.
United ruined Vancouver’s clean sheet in the 82nd minute, with midfielder Ibson putting one past Whitecaps keeper Stefan Marinovic.
Minnesota forward Abu Danladi followed up with another goal in the 87th.
But Davies made sure Minnesota wouldn’t complete the comeback, scoring his second of the game in the 89th minute.
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The crowd of 20,831 at B.C. Place was quick to welcome the young all-star back, cheering every time he touched the ball.
Multiple players drew fouls while challenging Davies as Minnesota tried to control the youngster.
When United defender — and former Whitecap — Michael Boxall gave Davies a hard bump along the sideline in the 39th minute, the stadium erupted in boos.
Boxall was shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
Minnesota midfielder Eric Miller was handed the same punishment in the 50th minute after he grabbed Davies by the back of the jersey as the teen dribbled down the sideline.
The Whitecaps’ victory ended Minnesota’s three-game win streak.
Davies will play in the MLS all-star game on Wednesday in Atlanta.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press