Forge Qualifies For Playoffs With Five Games Left To Play
The reigning Canadian Premier League champions have qualified for playoffs after just twenty-three games played.
Hamilton-based side Forge FC didn’t actually play tonight – they face MLS side CF Montreal in the Canadian Championship tomorrow – but the CPL side has now secured a postseason berth following Valour’s comfortable 3-0 win over the Halifax Wanderers in Winnipeg.
Goals from William Akio, Rafael Galhardo, and Sean Rea secured three points for Phillip Dos Santos’ outsider playoff hopefuls, while the Wanderers – who sit in the fourth and final playoff spot for now – have continued to struggle without Joao Morelli on the pitch, and now rest seven points behind Forge with two games left in their regular season.
Forge FC has a number of games in hand over its league competition due to the club’s active participation in both the Concacaf League and the Canadian Championship, though the side still rests in third place despite playing two less games than both Cavalry and Pacific.
After a tough start to the season after Ontario health regulations saw the side essentially go without a preseason, the hammers have risen to secure a league-leading thirteen wins, with eight losses and just two draws.
Head coach Bobby Smyrniotis had kept the bulk of his title winning squad together in an offseason that was highlighted by the return of Tristan Borges on loan, with the gaffer even bringing in some high-profile additions like Omar Browne and Emery Welshman later on. He was also earmarked by Carmine Isacco as a head coach who deserves a shot in MLS.
Captained by veteran midfielder Kyle Bekker, the Hamilton-based side banked on the experience of its title-winning athletes to help several new youngsters through league play, with former TFC striker Molham Babouli leading the club’s goalscoring charts and mid-season addition Woobens Pacius making a splash in that regard, too.
An iron-clad backline has helped massively in the title defense thus far, with 2020 Golden Glove winner Triston Henry just one clean sheet behind Valour’s Jonathan Sirois for a repeat award. The club has only conceded 19 goals in league play this year, which is a far cry less than the next-best defense (Cavalry sits at 26).
Dutch defender Daniel Krutzen has stepped up to lead the backline following the retirement of David Edgar, with youngster Garven Metusala slotting in well amongst an otherwise familiar and consistent defense that has done well despite missing Maxim Tissot for the majority of the season.
With 42 points from 23 matches played good enough for a guaranteed spot in postseason action, Forge is now set to simply aim for the highest playoff position in order to secure hosting rights for the upcoming playoffs.
Forge FC have championed the first two CPL seasons, defeating rivals Cavalry FC for the title in 2019 and retaining the trophy versus the Halifax Wanderers in 2020. The side is due to belatedly play Toronto FC in a 2021 Canadian Championship, while still finding itself in the running for the 2022 edition of the domestic cup along with the Concacaf League, too.
Meanwhile, the race for the last playoff spot is wide open: Halifax’s biggest loss of the season opens a door for York United, whilst Valour FC’s big win sees them an outside bet as they close out the campaign with two away trips.