June 19, 2024
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Concacaf Champions Cup Forge Chivas Tristan Borges

Preview: Forge Needs ‘Near-Perfect’ Game As Chivas Boss Warns Against Complacency

By on February 13, 2024 0 737 Views

Forge will enter Estadio Akron tonight as heavy underdogs, having succumbed to a 3-1 defeat in their opening leg match against storied Liga MX club Chivas Guadalajara. A brace and assist from Cade Cowell undid the hosts last week, though Terran Campbell found the back of the net as Forge proved the club could, in moments, go toe-to-toe with the Mexican giants despite just having just wrapped their own preseason camp.

Still, the visiting Canadian Premier League champions have it all to do: succumbing to a 1-3 home loss, the hammers need to tally at least three goals in order to turn the tide. If the aggregate score (including away goals) is level at the end of regulation time, the match will go to extra time before a penalty shootout – but it’d take quite a lot to reach that point.

Concacaf Champions Cup Chivas
Photo Credit: Club Deportivo Guadalajara

The Chivas Perspective: Gago Urges Team Not To Get Overconfident

While Chivas finished with a healthy 1-3 away win at Tim Hortons Field – leaving Forge in need of a miraculous three-goal salvo – Chivas boss Fernando Gago has stressed for the team not to get too high on themselves ahead of today’s match at Estadio Akron.

“We have a very difficult match, and although we have the advantage, we will try to extend it in order to qualify,” said Gago ahead of today’s bout. While Chivas have now won four matches in a row – including a 2-1 league win over Juarez on Saturday – he believes ‘the biggest mistake is to think that qualification is already assured’.

The Chivas head coach has confirmed that Fernando Beltran, Raul Rangel, and Mateo Chavez will not be in the matchday roster, nor will Chicharito or on-the-mend striker Jose Juan Macias. However, ex-PSV midfielder Erick Gutierrez and club captain Victor Guzman will be in the team after being rested in the first leg, and first leg brace scorer Cade Cowell is back in the mix too.

“We have to continue growing as a team, as a group on a day-to-day basis, and from that we will get results,” added Gago amidst the rotations. “We work every match to improve, there is nothing specific that can be said – I work behind closed doors.”

Concacaf Champions Cup Forge Chivas Tristan Borges
Photo Credit: Concacaf

Forging On: CPL Visitors Need Goals, ‘Near-Perfect’ Game

The reigning Canadian Premier League champions stayed true to their identity in the opening leg, so Forge boss Bobby Smyrniotis will march his group into the second match with their heads held high despite the deficit.

“We know we have to score goals,” says Smyrniotis. “We also know that in the first game we’ve played a lot of good football, but little details let us down. So, we know we need to be near-perfect with those details, and it’s one goal at a time.”

The hammers only procured three shots on target last game, and if they’re to repeat the task away from home they’d have to score every one of them, without conceding, to reach the next round. It’s an uphill battle, but one Bobby and his team enter the ring prepared to fight for.

“If you focus on that it becomes a very difficult task when you think about it, playing away from home,” he adds. “What you have to do is take the moments. We also don’t fool ourselves. We’re playing a massive club. For us, we need to [have a] perfect day on this pitch.”

The opening leg saw Forge draw level 31 minutes into the match, proving that in moments the club could strike blood against their historic Liga MX competition. Smyrniotis does not think the game plan of his opponents will change much in leg two.

“We expect a little bit of the same,” he says of Chivas. “They’re a quality club with quality players that have a style of play, and you can see that’s distinct in what they do, and we want to be able to do the same. We were happy with our performance in the first match, and not happy with the result. But we want to come out and play.”

The hammers will enter the second leg without Kwasi Poku, who suffered a hamstring strain ten minutes into the opening leg. The club is otherwise healthy, but remain without new signings Elimane Cisse and Nana Opoku Ampomah as the duo awaits their work permits.

Concacaf Champions Cup Forge Chivas Borges
Photo Credit: Concacaf

Forge Will Fight To The End

As pointed out by Mitchell Tierney, Forge have actually overturned an identical scoreline in continental play before, suffering a 3-1 away loss to Costa Rica’s Santos de Guapiles before a dramatic 3-0 home win secured their first-ever Champions Cup berth back in 2021.

“We’re down 3-1. It’s not over,” added Forge striker Jordan Hamilton, who had tasted defeat in a Champions League final at this exact stadium some five years ago. “I feel like we were in the game. Unfortunately, they got a later goal [in the first leg] – coming here 2-1 would be nice, but to be here with Forge is a huge privilege that I don’t take for granted.”

Their last foray into competitive action in Mexico saw the side succumb to a 4-1 defeat at Cruz Azul’s fabled Estadio Azteca, but Forge is never a club to spend too long looking at the history book: for at least 90 minutes, they’ll fight their Liga MX opposition to the bitter end.

Forge will kick off against Chivas Guadaljara at 10:00PM EST tonight. Canadians can view the match on OneSoccer, fuboTV, or Telus Optik Channel 980.

Header Image Photo Credit: Concacaf

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