ANALYSIS: How Forge Topped Cavalry In CPL Final
Saturday night provided us with a thrilling conclusion to the 2023 Canadian Premier League season with Forge getting the better of Cavalry 2-1 after extra time. All three goals were scored in the extra 30-minute period, all of which were true stunners.
There was a lot to unpack in this final, particularly with how Forge managed to come out on top. Here’s how Forge prevailed at Tim Hortons Field:
Keeping Bevan Quiet
For the most part, Myer Bevan was non-existent in the match, at least in his favoured number nine role. The joint CPL golden boot winner was often forced wide to have any major effect on the match.
All three Forge center backs played their role here. Despite Cavalry mustering 21 shots, Bevan was not able to have a really meaningful effort throughout the 120 minutes.
He did, however, play a pivotal role in Cavalry’s goal. Despite going to ground, he still found a way to find Jesse Daley, who teed up Ali Musse for the strike. Even in that case, the New Zealand international was forced to the edge of the box rather than in the middle.
Kudos to the Forge defense for keeping Bevan so quiet.
High Press Effective
A quality of many good teams is the desire to play out from the back. Both Forge and Cavalry, being excellent teams, do this regularly.
With that said, the Cavs had to work very hard to beat the Forge press. In the first half, there were a couple of occasions where Forge would send as many as five players high up the field, especially on goal kicks. Going man-to-man, Marco Carducci was regularly forced to go long rather than play it short.
On the occasions where the Cavs did try to play out of their defense, they faced serious press from the likes of Beni Badibanga, Terran Campbell, Noah Jensen, Kyle Bekker, and even Alessandro Hojabrpour.
Jensen in particular played a vital role in the press. Operating in the attacking midfield role for the first half, Jensen often looked like a false nine, getting extremely high to keep the Cavalry defense on their toes.
Staying Composed in Difficult Moments
Forge was outshot in this match, and even had less possession. While the opening 45 minutes were rather cagey, things did open up as the second half wore on. There was a period midway through the second half where Forge really had to weather the storm.
Jesse Daley, who was one of Cavalry’s best players on the night, forced a huge save from Triston Henry, which in part kept the Hammers in the match. Musse also brought a reaction out of the Golden Glove winner.
To that point, Cavalry started to go up a gear in the second half, with Musse and Daley finding more space. The former looked dangerous, often moving inside to create opportunities.
Composure was needed from Forge, especially after going behind. It took them just a few minutes to return to level pegging before they got their winner a few minutes into the second half of extra time.
From there, Cavalry did not cause any serious threat to the Forge goal in chasing for the equalizer, which exemplifies Forge’s ability to keep it together defensively.
Moments of Magic
As they have shown time and time again, one can never count out Forge, especially in big games.
The hosts sparked a spectacular comeback all within the space of ten match minutes. They had to do it the hard way, as it took two moments of sheer brilliance to break down Cavalry.
Badibanga’s shot from the corner of the box came from a lapse of concentration from Cavalry’s side. Allowing such space for the Congolese on a short corner was never going to be a good idea, and the he showed exactly why.
The second goal was even more brilliant. On this occasion, Forge only sent five players into the box, but because everyone was in drawn closer to the near post, the far post was completely free. The rest, as they say, was history.
It must be noted that on both goals, Charlie Trafford tried to get his head on the ball to keep it out. Yet, on neither occasion could the Cavalry man do so due to the sheer quality of both incredible goals.
In the end, Canadian football fans were treated to a true spectacle on Saturday night. Both teams left it all on the field – one could not have asked for a better finish to the season than this.
Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques