NEW YORK — New York City FC has had a lengthy run of results at home, and the club’s effort to extend a franchise record mark continues Saturday when Alphonso Davies and the Vancouver Whitecaps visit Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. EST.
NYCFC’s last regular-season defeat in its habitat was Sept. 9, 2017, when the Portland Timbers recorded a 1-0 triumph.
The Whitecaps (8-9-5, 29 points) hope to form a Pacific Northwest bookend to terminate the streak, while attempting to wake from a frightening road vision: Vancouver has been outscored 9-1 while dropping three straight road matches.
But they have urgency and Davies on their side.
The Whitecaps are just two points shy of playoff position in the Western Conference and feature the 17-year old Ghanaian, who recorded a pair of spectacular goals and two assists in a 4-2 home triumph against Minnesota last Sunday – three days after agreeing to a $13.5 million contract with Bayern Munich (performance related clauses could inflate the value to $22.5 million).
The colloquy surrounding Davies, who by FIFA mandate will be unable to complete the transfer until January when he turns 18, has been global due to the eminence of Bayern. However, the buzz from his most recent performance and his transfer did not alter the NYCFC game plan in preparation for the Whitecaps.
“It’s not special for me,” New York City head coach Dome Torrent said. “If a player who has a special quality and is able to score two goals every game – maybe I change a little bit, like when we play against Messi and Ronaldo. I respect a lot this player, but I don’t change anything about our team when we play against him.”
With 11 seasons working for three of the top teams in the world — including Bayern — as an assistant to Pep Guardiola, Torrent understands the characteristics necessary to succeed, and he believes Davies has those attributes.
“He has the quality to play in Europe but its not easy to play at Bayern Munich because it’s a top team,” Torrent said. “Believe me, its not easy to play especially when you are there in the first six months its very, very different. The rhythm, the quality of the players, the defenders – it’s not easy.”
In 2018, defending Davies for a full match has been an arduous task for most teams. He has the second best goals plus assists per 90 minutes ratio in Whitecaps history (0.84), and all but one of his career five goals and 11 assists have been recorded this season.
Davies will be seeking his first point against NYCFC (13-5-4, 43 points) who lead the overall series against Vancouver 2-1.