Final Score: C.A. Independiente de la Chorrera 0-2 Forge FC Goalscorers: Babouli 27', Bekker 54' 2021 Concacaf League Round of 16 (Leg 2)

Match in a minute or less

The reigning two-time Canadian Premier League champions produced one of their greatest ever performances as they scored a goal in each half to win a dramatic tie and secure a spot in the Concacaf League quarter-finals. Mo Babouli headed home a crucial opener after 27 minutes but was later sent off in controversial fashion just before half-time, forcing Bobby Smyrniotis and his team to alter things and prepare for a defensive effort in the second half. Captain Kyle Bekker, however, had other ideas and curled a beautiful free kick into the roof of the net less than ten minutes after the interval and Forge would more than do enough to hold on and advance.

Three Observations

Fantastic Forge deliver a monumental victory

It was fitting that this resilient performance would come in a baseball stadium. Arguably the greatest closer of all-time, Panamanian icon, and noted soccer fan, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, was known for stone-cold finishes. Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' would blare from the speakers and hope would drain from opponents before a cutter is thrown. Exit light Enter night Take my hand We're off to never-never land Forge reached never-never land on Tuesday. Don't mistake this for a place that refers to them reaching the quarter-finals, where they also went in 2020. This was the kind of showing that sticks with a team far more than simply reaching another round, as captain Kyle Bekker put it so accurately: "There is beauty in coming here and doing it the hard way". The Hammers certainly did that, closing out a favourite in this competition with a monumental performance that was arguably the most resilient showing ever by a Canadian Premier League team. "This was big," admitted coach Bobby Smyrniotis postmatch. It is worth reminding people that this was Forge's 12th match in Concacaf League in the last three seasons. They've been to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Panama and throughout those trips they've learned to embrace everything Concacaf can throw at you. This night was never really going to be any different. Yet, something about it had to be. In order for Forge to overcome it all they had to find a level of mental strength few, if any, Canadian Premier League teams have ever needed to do before. They would face a remarkably fast start from the home team, in which they hit the post and had a goal disallowed for offside. Sure, they buckled as Guido Rouse and Rafael Aguila, Independiente's powerful front two in tandem, caused issues early, but Forge never broke. Instead, they grew into the game themselves by leaning on their big players. Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson dropping between Dominic Samuel and Daniel Krutzen gave them a 3vs2 out of possession and - particularly with Belgian Krutzen - a crucial outlet to take the space and drive forward with the ball. They would face a staggering red card decision, forcing them to play a man down for an entire half, yet throughout the adversity they grew stronger. Their spine stood tall, led by the irreplaceable Elimane Cisse, who never stopped running, closed key openings and prevented opponents to turn and play. What a gem he is to watch and for the CPL to have. He simply allows his team to be comfortable stretching the field and giving teams a bit more space to try and play through them. Try, of course, being the operative word with Cisse, the true guardian of the gates. Emery Welshman up top was also very good and now brings a true number nine profile to a team that has lacked that for the most of 2021. His presence on the ball causes opponents problems and he is very good at attracting indisciplined and overeager defenders towards him, something that proved crucial to the awarding of the 54th minute free kick that led to the second goal.

Bend it like Bekker

Forge's victory tasted just a little sweeter because of the performance of their captain. Bekker is the heartbeat of this side, emotionally and tactically and delivered once again on a big night for his team. It cannot be overstated just how important Bekker's free kick was. It came out a time when Independiente felt they were more than good enough to get the two goals they needed to advance. The moment the ball hit the back of Cesar Samudio's net, however, the game felt over. All hope and belief seemed to rush from Independiente's players. It is also worth noting just how important a role Bekker played in the opening goal of the game. In the sixth minute Forge were awarded their first corner of the match and the skipper surprisingly whipped a delivery in with his left foot. Twenty minutes later he went back to his more natural right foot but Independiente appeared to set up expecting a similar cross as before, and were unable to defend the space found by Achinioti-Jonsson whose header found Mo Babouli's head to make it 1-0. "I just wanted to switch it up. I saw something on the first corner and felt I wanted to get (the second) delivery to the top of the box to Alex and Mo and it worked out," said Bekker.

Babouli's appalling red card thankfully not the story of the night

You can judge for yourself by watching the video below. It could easily have been the main story of the game and the reason for Forge's exit from the competition. It was never a red card and easily could have been a major distraction. Forge players flipped the script at half-time. "Its something we have to expect," said Bekker. "Yes, it's difficult for us and it took the steam out of the match. It was a surprise to us he was shown straight red but our response was fantastic. We could have crumbled and let is get the best of us but we came in with smiles on our faces at half-time and didn't let it get to us." Presented with a harder path they embraced the adversity, remained composed and grew stronger. That's right. A Canadian Premier League team, less than four years old, facing adversity only Concacaf seemingly can throw at them, brushed it aside like a veteran group built much tougher than anyone could have imagined. This was a night where Forge won more than a football match. It was also another pivotal night for the Canadian Premier League. Player of the Match

Kyle Bekker, Forge FC A truly brilliant performance from the skipper, scoring one and assisting on the other goal, both from set plays. Smyrniotis was full of praise for his leader postmatch: "He is excellent on dead balls, he works a lot on them in training and you know he will come up in the big moments for us. What people know about Kyle Bekker is he comes up big in the big moments and when his team needs him." Truly the best compliment a coach can give a player.

What’s next?

Forge resume their Canadian Premier League campaign with a trip to Atlético Ottawa on Sunday in the ComeOn! Match of the week at 330pm ET. In the final eight of the Concacaf League they will play either Plaza Amador of Panama or Costa Rica's Santos de Guápiles who meet in the second leg on Wednesday. Those ties will take place October 19-21 and November 2-4. Watch all matches live on OneSoccer.

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