Preview: Forge vs Chivas Guadalajara
Forge FC is in for a second crack at the Concacaf Champions Cup. As was the case two years ago, the Hammers will be facing Mexican opposition. This time, it is in the form of two-time winners CD Guadalajara, commonly known as Chivas.
Here is a preview ahead of Wednesday night’s first leg from Tim Hortons Field, looking at both teams’ form, pre-match thoughts from the coaches, and each clubs’ history in the revamped Champions Cup.
As they are in their offseason, we would have to go back to October for Forge’s most recent competitive game. Of course, that would be the Hammers’ 2-1 comeback win in the CPL final against Cavalry. In fact, both of Forge’s last two games were against the Cavs, with the Hamiltonians coming out on top each time.
Recently, Forge was in Mexico as part of their preparations for this tie. That saw them defeat third tier side CD Irapuato 3-2 in a friendly, though they also played Inter Queretaro, Celaya FC, and Liga MX side CF Pachuca to prepare for tonight’s match.
For Chivas, they recently started the Clausura – the second half of their domestic campaign. They are 2-2-1 after their first five Clausura matches, including a 2-1 victory over Atletico San Luis last weekend. They have prevailed in back-to-back games, and sit in the middle of the table as things stand.
While Forge qualified for the Champions Cup as the CPL playoff winners, CD Guadalajara qualified for the competition as last season’s Clausura finalist. They lost to Tigres in the two-legged final 3-2 on aggregate.
Coaches’ Thoughts Pre-Match
Ahead of the match, both teams’ head coaches spoke to the media. Speaking about Chivas under their new coach, Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis pointed out that they are ‘trying to play a lot more in transition, and trying to attack as quickly as possible’.
When talking about Liga MX, the Forge boss added: ‘I think if you are a neutral football fan, you like to watch Liga MX.’ When asked if he wished the temperature was a bit colder, Smyrniotis claimed that -20 degrees ‘would have been good. This is too comfortable for everyone.’
Forge captain Kyle Bekker was also involved in the pre-match presser. The skipper was asked about whether the temperature being more suited to Forge.
“I mean if it was colder, it would have been nicer, but it is what it is. The reality is that it will be a great night for a game,” said the captain.
Chivas coach Fernando Gago and defender Antonio Briseño were also asked their thoughts about the match. When asked about whether he will rotate his players for the match, Gago responded that he had not decided as of yet.
“We’re going to work it today and we’re going to think about what will be best for us.”
“We know that these tournaments make you play in all the climates and we have to adapt,” added Briseno. “The one who doesn’t have no chance of winning. The players are athletic, they’re going to make the game very complicated and for something they’re in this competition. We want to win and be in the Club World Cup.”
History in the CONCACAF Champions Cup
While this will be Forge’s second go in the Champions Cup, CD Guadalajara will partake in the competition for the ninth time. They have a very impressive record though: in five of their previous eight appearances, they have made at least the semi-finals.
Moreover, Rojiblancos‘ last go in the Champions Cup saw them win their second title in the competition. It took them penalties to defeat Toronto FC after a 3-3 aggregate score across two legs, something Forge striker Jordan Hamilton will remember clearly. That is Chivas’ only other matchup against a Canadian side in CONCACAF competition.
Wednesday night will be CD Guadalajara’s 34th game in the competition, in stark contrast to Forge’s third. However, the Hammers are not without continental experience. Forge played 16 games in the now-defunct CONCACAF League, reaching the semi-finals in the 2021 season.
As for the Champions Cup – formerly known as the Concacaf Champions League – Forge’s previous matches in the competition came against Cruz Azul. A 4-1 aggregate defeat ended Forge’s run at the first hurdle.
This time around, however, the aim will be to go farther.
Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques