June 22, 2024
  • June 22, 2024
Forge FC Kwasi Poku

CF Montreal Falls To Forge In Canadian Championship

By on May 22, 2024 0 1857 Views

For the fourth time in tournament history and the second time this week, a Canadian Premier League side has prevailed over its MLS counterpart – and this one will be heading to the Canadian Championship semi-finals.

Forge struck first blood against Montreal and backed it up with another goal in the first half, with a beleaguered CF Montreal unable a conjure a coherent comeback against the reigning CPL champions – a team they’d never lost to in four previous meetings.

CF Montreal kicked off with a slight advantage in hand through away goals, having gotten away with a 1-1 draw in a well-attended Tim Hortons Field Schoolday match two weeks ago.

Forge’s starting eleven was largely unchanged from their last outing, with only one roster swap – though notably, Smyrniotis called upon Kwasi Poku to start right up top tonight, giving fans their first glimpse of the youngster as a striker.

Montreal, meanwhile, tallied five changes from their squad which had played Forge two weeks ago, and seven from their thumping league defeat against Toronto FC – though one consistent was Nigerian striker Sunisi Ibrahim, who once scored a hat trick against Forge and had the side’s lone goal against TFC last weekend.

While fans may have raised their eyebrows at Poku in a number nine role, he opened the shooting with a powerful out-of-the-box effort that rose just above the bar. Borges would then slide an inch-perfect through ball to David Choiniere that was only denied by a brilliant tackle from Corbo, showing that Forge had come in hungry for goals.

The warning lights now flashed, Forge pounced soon after: a quick transition from the visitors saw Badibanga send a ball in from the left flank to CF Monterrey loanee David Parra, with the Mexican duly firing above the mitts of Breza to put Forge ahead on aggregate as a quietness enveloped Stade Saputo:

CF Montreal found themselves spurred to life afterwards, generating a slew of rapid-fire chances that tested the Forge backline and young goalkeeper Christopher Kalongo, who held firm with some fine saves.

‘I Trust In My Ability’: Kalongo Enjoying Opportunity To Impress As Forge Starter

The hammers would put themselves up by two after brilliant ball up the right flank saw Kwasi Poku get the best of his marker, with the youngster darting into the box and slotting a left-footed shot beyond Breza to leave Montreal with a mountain to climb.

Now needing three goals, the hosts found themselves subjected to jeers and whistles from fans who would need two hands to count the games since their last win.

The bell would ring for Montreal – briefly – on the half hour mark as a nice ball in from Ilias Illiadis resulted in an offside goal for the hosts, fooling some of the crowd to spring to their feet momentarily.

The best opportunity for the hosts came in the closing moments of the first half, but Kalongo would keep his clean sheet intact with two fine stops to avoid any changes to the dynamic during the half-time interval.

A weather delay from lightning prolonged the feelings of unease for Montreal, with over an hour and a half passing before the second half of the game could unfold.

Montreal head coach Laurent Courtois made a rare triple change to help breathe life into the hosts for the second half, with Jules-Anthony Vilsaint, Ariel Lassiter, and Fernando Alvarez coming on for Le CFM.

The changes added some definite bit for the hosts, who quickly called Kalongo into action and looked more threatening on the counter, with Bekker verging on the line of a penalty shout from Marie-Soleil Beaudoin as he bowled an attacker over in the box, though no whistle came.

The sustained pressure eventually paid off, with a multitude of corner kits eventually landing an opportunity for Victor Wanyama the chance to ping a powerful header into the back of the net:

Forge boss Bobby Smyrniotis sensed the momentum shift, taking off Poku for the more defensive-minded Malik Owolabi-Belewu after Kalongo was forced to produce another fine save with twenty minutes to go.

Corbo nearly levelled the score fifteen minutes from time, firing a header just inches wide of the post. The hammers would cling on to the result, however, recording not just a win on the night, but a historic victory over CF Montreal as they march on to the semi-final stage.

This low point for CF Montreal now sees them winless in its last eight matches and knocked out of the cup by a team with a much smaller salary cap, positing big questions to club brass. Weather delay or no, there is a big storm brewing -nay, chaotically thriving – for the MLS side.

Forge will now march to a semi-final stage that includes two MLS teams with Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps securing passage earlier this week, though the ‘Caps cut it close. Next week will see Pacific FC and Atletico Ottawa play to determine the other CPL entrant to the penultimate round.

Forge has long-been a flagbearer of the Canadian Premier League, and that was on display tonight after they danced to their own drums in the 514. Having come one match away from lifting the trophy in be belated 2020 Final, there’s a firm believe the hammers could go all the way this time in 2024.

Header Image Photo Credit: Audrey Magny

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