Forge FC keep rolling toward CONCACAF League berth

Forge FC
On a dark night in Hamilton, Ontario, Forge FC took on FC Edmonton.

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (May 30, 2019) — Forge FC keep rolling with a third consecutive 2-0 victory. Forge’s CONCACAF League qualification is also closer to being secured after Wednesday night’s win over FC Edmonton.

The Hamilton side took all three points in a professional showing against the visiting Eddies. With six points from their first two CONCACAF League qualification matches, Forge are in a great spot to move into the Champions’ League qualifying tournament.

Cagey First Half

Through the first 15 minutes of the match, Forge controlled much of the ball with their typical possession style and quick transition play. In the 25th minute Chris Nanco replaced Anthony Novak, who left play with an apparent injury. Novak’s holdup play has been a key to Forge’s success so far this season. His ability to hold the ball with his back to goal and bring the talented midfield and wide players into the attack helps generate offensive chances for Forge.

After the Novak substitution, FC Edmonton controlled more of the ball, ending the half with 57 percent possession. The Eddies had 10 days off between their derby loss to Cavalry and their visit to Hamilton, and looked well rested. The visitors had a lot of the ball but few meaningful attacks. Forge, on the other hand, counter-attacked well and had three shots in the half.

Penalty to Hamilton

Forge FC continued to have an impact in transition throughout the first half. Tristan Borges looked dangerous several times. He finally beat young Connor James in the Edmonton goal after being taken down inside the area in the 35th minute. Borges danced his way into the box and was taken down. Referee Mathieu Souaré had no choice but to point to the spot. Borges took the penalty duties and sent James the wrong way to give the home side the advantage. The goal puts the young winger in sole possession of the Spring Season scoring title with four goals.

Forge had a strong penalty shout earlier in the half when Emery Welshman was brought down. However, Souaré waved play on.

Set Piece Success

Forge FC got their second goal in the 70th minute. Borges again found himself in space against Connor James, who brilliantly saved one-on-one. The 22-year old keeper had six saves on the night, three of which were big stops against Borges.

The save deflected out for a corner and Borges whipped in a gorgeous ball. Daniel Krutzen headed home at the front post to give Forge the two-goal advantage. The goal is Krutzen’s first in the Canadian Premier League. When asked about Krutzen after the match, Forge FC Head Coach Bobby Smyrniotis praised his versatility.

He’s played a few different roles. Obviously he’s played in midfield at Halifax, at left back, at left centre back and today at right centre back,” Smyrniotis said. “He’s indicative of the types of players we have on the team that can play some different roles. He’s an important player and its always good when you can shift things around to make you better and also to counter what the opponent is bringing to you. That’s something that we tinkered with a little bit today.”

Krutzen, Bertrand Owundi and Dominic Samuel defended well throughout the match. As the game drew to a close, FC Edmonton pushed for a late tally. Former Canada Men’s National Team attacker Randy Edwini-Bonsu lashed a hard shot from outside the area that Triston Henry tipped over the crossbar to preserve the clean sheet.

Squad Rotation Paying Off

With his 88th minute inclusion, Monti Mohsen became the final member of Forge FC’s 21-man roster to get CPL minutes. Not only does the depth and rotation pay off in terms of results, it also is one of the core values of the CPL. When speaking to Mohsen after the game about his first experience, and about the value of a Canadian league, he was quick to point out its merits.

For younger players like myself, its good for development … Once you get to bigger stages like MLS or even Europe you need minutes, you need to play with good players,” Smyrniotis said. “The minutes make all the difference.”

Spring Table Taking Shape

With their 2-0 wins over Valour FC, York 9 FC and now FC Edmonton, Forge FC sit in second place in the Spring standings. They are two points behind undefeated Cavalry FC, and seven points ahead of third-place Valour FC. Although Forge have played seven matches — two more than any other Canadian Premier League team — they’ve still got breathing room thanks to recent results.

Because of the short ten game Spring schedule, Cavalry may be a lock for the title already. The Calgary outfit have played a relentless first five games and have fifteen points to show for it, including a win against Forge earlier in May. Forge would have to keep rolling the wins together in order to maintain pace.

Changing Gears

There’s no rest for Forge FC, though, who go into Canadian Championship competition on Tuesday against the league leaders in Cavalry. Cavalry defeated Pacific FC over two legs to qualify for the next round.

If Forge FC can keep rolling, they will be able to take revenge for their previous home loss and move on to the next round. Forge received a controversial bye into the current round due to its status as a “Canadian Premier League Founding Club.” The winner of their two-legged match will face Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS.

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