Concacaf League Changes Mean Away Matches Only For Forge FC
The structure of the 2020 Concacaf League has just been officially modified by Concacaf, with the latter stages of the tournament now being switched to single leg ties as opposed to home-and-away fixtures.
While the news means that Forge FC won’t be able to play at Tim Hortons Field this year even if the side progresses beyond the Round of 16, the change in tournament structure comes with a silver lining: the club now has another route to potential 2021 Concacaf Champions League qualification.
Should Forge FC reach the quarter-finals and lose in the single leg tie, the club would then undergo a ‘play-in’ match against one of the other quarter-final losers. The winners of those two matches will advance to the 2021 Concacaf Champions League along with the four semi-finalists.
Previously, the quarter finals and beyond featured home and away legs, with the semi-finalists qualifying for the Champions League and the last two qualifying sides being decided by a mini-table between the losing teams of the quarter finals.
Of course, Forge FC has a completely separate route to the Champions League through its Voyageurs Cup Final against Toronto FC, though the Canada Soccer Association has not yet disclosed when and where this match will be played.
Progressing through either route would mark the first time a Canadian Premier League club has qualified for the Champions League, with Forge FC having been the only CPL club to qualify for Concacaf League action thus far – a feat which it has done for 2019, 2020, and now also 2021 following their Island Games victory (assuming that they don’t qualify for the Champions League instead).
It was a mini table that first qualified them for last year’s tournament, with the club besting Valour FC and FC Edmonton to become the first Canadian Premier League club to compete in the continental tournament. Now, Canada’s entrant is determined by who wins the North Star Shield.
Concacaf stated that today’s changes were made to reduce the travel and administrative burden on the participating clubs, though the tournament has also struggled with match delays due to COVID-19 outbreaks in participating sides.
Forge FC underwent its preliminary round of action in El Salvador, edging through the first round of the competition with a last-gasp Anthony Novak matchwinner against CD Limeno. The close-door affair saw Jonathan Grant collect a red card, meaning he’ll miss the club’s tough away tie against Tauro FC.
Forge FC travelled straight from El Salvador to Panama, where the 29 degree weather has proven to be a marked difference from the climate back home. The Round of 16 is where Forge FC ended its campaign last year in a 4-2 aggregate loss against CD Olimpia, though now that the club became the first CPL side to win on foreign soil it’ll be interesting to see how the squad fairs in its next match.
The reigning Canadian Premier League champions will kick off against Tauro FC on Tuesday, November 3 at 8:00PM in the Estadio Rommel Fernandez, a natural grass 32,000-seater stadium in Panama City. The match will be available on TSN3.
It appears that Chris Nanco has also re-joined the squad in Panama, indicating that he’s likely to participate in the action next Tuesday.
Header Image Credit: Concacaf