Preview: Cavalry and Forge Set For Heated CPL Final
Tonight’s finale to the 2023 Canadian Premier League season is going to be fireworks.
With reigning champions Forge FC gunning for back-to-back championships for the second time in club history – and possibly the first title win at a home venue – we’ve got a motivated home side where, as Bobby quipped yesterday, the expectation is to win.
Coming in hot from a regular season championship win is Cavalry FC, with playoff revenge proving a good motivator at a time when, for all intents and purposes, it seems to finally be Cavalry’s year.
It’s another ‘forever first’ clash between these two perennial favourites: who will lift the North Star Cup? Cavalry will enter the title with a clean bill of health – something that’ve done well to maintain throughout the season – while Forge will enter without top goalscorer Woobens Pacius, who’ll prove a big miss after grabbing himself a ten-goal tally this season.
There’ll also be eyes aplenty on Forge midfielder Alejandro Hojabrpour, who scored in the last two CPL Finals – the first against Forge as a Pacific player, and the second for them against Ottawa. Should they win tonight, he’ll be the first athlete to ever to win three CPL titles in a row.
To reach that point, however, won’t be easy: Forge has hosted Cavalry twice this season, with both league bouts ending in a draw. From the season a whole, it’s still even between them with one win apiece and three days, counting their feisty playoff match two weeks ago. Tommy says his team have learned from that loss, but ultimately downplayed what he called a ‘bonus trophy’ after the regular season win.
“I think the lads now just want to enjoy the moment tomorrow, and turn up, and show up, and back up the reputation that they have rightfully earned,” said the Cavalry boss.
Forge will do everything to make sure that doesn’t happen, and there won’t be love lost between the sides. We’d called Forge and Cavalry the league’s best rivalry back in 2019, and it hasn’t let us down since. As CanPL.ca pointed out, the matchups between the sides this year have seen eleven different goalscorers contribute 12 goals apiece, so this could be a final for the ages – especially with Forge’s home form having lacked this year.
Still, they’re the league’s de facto ‘big game team’. That’s the status quo, but Cavalry’s regiment are here to dismount it.
As a reminder for the rules: if the scores are level after ninety minutes, we’ll get extra time in the form of two fifteen-minute halves – something that we’ve never seen in a CPL Final before. After that, it’s penalties. Should it come down to that, the track records of both sides leaves it sounding like a coin flip: it took Forge four attempts to win one, while Cavalry are still winless after two. Make no mistake: neither side wants it to come down to penalties, but if it does, it’ll probably be chaos.
The 2023 CPL Final will kick off at 6:00PM tonight at Tim Hortons Field. Canadian fans can tune in form OneSoccer, fuboTV, and Telus Optik.
Header Image Photo Credit: Jojo Yanjiao Qian