Forge 1-3 Chivas: Mexicans in Good Position After First Leg
In what was a well-contested game, CD Guadalajara came away with a 3-1 win away to Forge in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions Cup pairing.
This was Forge’s second go in the rebranded competition, in comparison to Chivas’ eight previous showings. While they were always considered to be the underdog, the home side did not allow themselves to be dominated and stuck true to their playstyle.
There were no new signings to start the game for Forge as coach Bobby Smyrniotis opted for one of the most experienced teams he had available. The only significant position change was in goal, where Christopher Kalongo got the nod as Triston Henry was unavailable due to personal reasons.
As for CD Guadalajara, who defeated Atletico San Luis 2-0 on the weekend, coach Fernando Gago made seven adjustments to his starting 11. Given the depth of his squad, the Argentinian coach made good use of it.
The first 25 minutes saw no attempts from either side as both teams felt each other out. With that said, the quality of Chivas was there, with the Mexican side going ahead in the 26th minute.
After a giveaway from Beni Badibanga, Femando Gonzalez intercepted the pass and played a brilliant through ball in to Cade Cowell. The American made no mistake in beating Christopher Kalongo to put Chivas in front.
The lead would not last long, however, as the Hammers equalized just five minutes later. Tristan Borges, who came on for Kwasi Poku 10 minutes in, was afforded too much space and managed to whip in the perfect cross to Terran Campbell. The former Pacific striker comfortably guided the ball past Oscar Whalley to level the score just minutes after the hosts had gone behind.
CD Guadalajara started to look more threatening in the remaining 15 minutes of the first half. Eduardo Torres had a go from distance, but was a straightforward save for Kalongo. The Forge number two would again be called upon moments later when he got a foot on Jose Castillo’s shot.
Nevertheless, just before half-time, the visitors went back in front. Cowell managed to create room on the right hand side for a cross. His ball in the box found the head of Ricardo Marin, who nodded it home to give his side the lead again.
The second half started off with a similar lull to the opening stanza as Forge came out knowing they had to push for another equalizer. Campbell had an attempt 10 minutes in, but Whalley was equal to it.
in what could very well be the goal to decide the tie, Chivas added a third just past the hour mark. Cowell scored his second of the game after being played in by Jesus Sanchez. The attacker beat Malick Owolabi-Belawu before slotting it past Kalongo to seal the win for Chivas.
While the away side did create a couple more opportunities, the damage was already done. Chivas came out with a 3-1 victory and is in a commanding position ahead of next Tuesday’s decider.
While Forge will be idle until the return match at the Estadio Akron, Guadalajara will be in action on the weekend where they will face a struggling Juarez team.
Forge will have their work cut out for them if they are to complete what would be a stunning turnaround. Despite a spirited effort from the defending CPL playoff champions, they will have it tough, having conceded three away goals. A comeback in Mexico will be quite the challenge.
Header Image Photo Credit: Concacaf