On September 13, 2016, Vancouver Whitecaps FC made history.
The ‘Caps knew a win over Sporting Kansas City would send them to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time. And they did not disappoint.
Carl Robinson: Play like it was a Cup Final. That was the message to the players. Kansas City is never an easy place to go. We had never won in KC, so it was about creating a bit of history.
Alphonso Davies: We knew it was a big game for the club. We just wanted to get the three points. Doesn’t matter how we do it. We just wanted to go in there and win the game.
Kendall Waston: Since we arrived in Kansas, the only mentality was winning.
Carl Robinson: We were average in the first 25 minutes. We weren’t at the races. We were a yard off. I think we were waiting for the game to come to us rather than taking the game to them.
Spencer Richey: They got in behind us and whipped in some dangerous balls that we had to deal with. A couple half-chances, a volley from Hallisey. Nothing that was too concerning, but obviously that many half-chances on net, there are good enough players in this league that can put those away. But when you’re playing on the road you’re going to have to weather some storms and that’s what we did.
And weathering a storm is quite literally what they did. Play was halted in the 35th minute with lightning approaching, resulting in a lengthy delay.
Kendall Waston: It was windy, rainy, lightning, everything. That reminded me of Costa Rica. It’s the first time I’ve seen so much rain here in the U.S. There was a lot of water on the field.
Spencer Richey: We poked our heads out a few times and it was really coming down pretty hard.
Kyle Greig: We were just trying to relax. It’s hard to keep the adrenaline pumping when you don’t really know when you’re going to be going back out. A lot of guys just relaxed, kicked their shoes off, played some music, some people played soccer tennis and stuff like that.
Alphonso Davies: We were sitting in the dressing room and they kept coming in and saying 30 minutes. Then 30 minutes go by. OK, another 20 or 30 minutes. They kept adding time. They came in again and we were like, “OK how much more time is it now?” They said five minutes. So we got really excited. We all got pumped, put our boots on ready to go out there and fight.
Carl Robinson: The rain delay came at a good time for us. I said, “Guys, that’s not good enough. We’re trying to create history here. We’ve got an opportunity to win this game. And if we don’t take care of business, it’s going to go to the last game.” And we didn’t want that to happen. A few home truths sometimes do them a world of good. And they responded in the right way.
Alphonso Davies: Before we went on, the players were telling me, “Take their guy on. Go at him. Put crosses in.” So when I got the ball on the wing, I was facing the defender that just came into the game. He wasn’t really adjusted to the game yet. So I wanted to take advantage of that. I went at him, cut it in to my right, and then he came to slide tackle me. I just got a touch of the ball and kept my balance. Then I played a one-two with Nico and I saw Erik and Fraser screaming in the box. So I just slid it across. Boom. Goal.
Erik Hurtado: Oh man. I just had to put my foot on it. He did all the work.
Kansas City tied the game 14 minutes later, setting up a frantic conclusion to the match.
Kendall Waston: When they got their goal, it was a nice situation with both teams going on the counter-attack. We had chances on goal, but we weren’t scoring.
Carl Robinson: I just kept thinking, we cannot keep missing chance after chance after chance. I think Pedro had a couple of chances, so did Erik, and Blas. I just thought it would come back to bite us in the backside. Thankfully, it didn’t.
Kyle Greig: There were two substitutes already. I was in the corner warming up and somebody called me to go down. It was cool to jog by my family (Greig grew up in Kansas). And then Carl just said go and enjoy it. No pressure. It was cool to get in there and I felt like I contributed.
Alphonso Davies: Everybody thought it was offside, so we stopped playing. And then Robbo was in the background yelling, ‘Go, go, go.’ I think Kyle thought it was offside too, but the referee didn’t blow the whistle. So Kyle got the ball and was attacking the defender.
Kyle Greig: I think it was a clearance from Cole that kind of went by and I think they thought I was offside. I just went to the corner, turned, and slipped it into Fonzie.
Kendall Waston: When Alphonso got the ball, I heard someone yell, “Shoot, shoot!”
Alphonso Davies: I went into that space, called for the ball, took a touch, and just shot it. I was trying to curl it top corner [laughs]. Fortunately, it hit the defender and went in.
Kendall Waston: When we saw the ball go in, everybody was so happy for the team but also for him. He’s a young kid with so much talent.
Alphonso Davies: I was really happy. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do. I saw Andrew [Jacobson] so I just went and jumped on him. I couldn’t have done it without the rest of the team. It’s a great honour to make history with the club. We fought hard. That was a long game. We just wanted to go out there and make history, not just for us but for the whole club in general. And that’s what we did.
Spencer Richey: It was awesome for Kyle too. Someone I cheer for all the time. In his hometown. He gets the call-up and I thought he was big coming on late, releasing pressure and obviously the assist to Alphonso to win it. It was a pretty cool feeling. We made history and hopefully it’s just the first step.
Kendall Waston: That’s what we’re here for, to create history and to help this club be successful. Now, in the quarterfinals, anything can happen.
Carl Robinson: It’s a great statement for the club, a great achievement for the players. But the hard work starts now.