2021 Concacaf League -- Preliminary Round CD FAS vs. Forge FC (1-3 on aggregate) August 17, 2021 at 10:15 pm ET Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador, El Salvador Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca


Forge FC will look to complete their task on Tuesday night by closing out their two-legged Concacaf League preliminary round tie against CD FAS. They'll enter this reverse fixture with a 3-1 lead in the aggregate series, having sailed to a comfortable victory last Thursday night in San Salvador to take firm control of the tie -- thanks to goals from Tristan Borges, Mo Babouli, and David Choinière. Although this second leg, like the first, will take place in Estadio Cuscatlán in the capital of El Salvador, FAS will be the designated home team for away goals purposes, after Forge were technically hosts in the opening game. The Hamilton-based outfit has spent the time since that first leg training in San Salvador, preparing to see out the tie and advance to the round of 16 -- where Panamanian side Independiente await. FAS, however, were forced to split their attention over the weekend. Fresh off their defeat to Forge on Thursday, they went to take on CD Municipal Limeño (a familiar name to Forge fans) in Salvadoran league play, which they won 3-0. FAS made five changes to their starting 11 for Saturday's game, but key starters like Guillermo Stradella and Luis Arturo Peralta played in both contests on a very tight turnaround. So, they may be facing a little fatigue in this second leg. Forge will also receive a major boost for Tuesday's game: captain Kyle Bekker and head coach Bobby Smyrniotis will once again be able to take part, after both missed out on Thursday's contest due to suspension. With the rest of the squad seemingly rounding into form, Forge will be extra confident in their ability to make another strong run in the continental competition. "Tomorrow is an important match for the short history of our club," Smyrniotis said in his prematch availability on Monday. "We just want to add to that. We've had some magical nights in the Concacaf League the last couple of years and we want to continue that with our progression into the next phase tomorrow. We know it's going to be a difficult match, we know the opponent very well now that's ahead of us, not only from scouting before but now playing them live only five days ago. I think we're well prepared as a team and we're ready for the battle." The current forecast for San Salvador near kickoff is for a hot, humid, and potentially stormy evening: With 94% humidity expected on Tuesday night, with a high chance of a thunderstorm, the conditions may not be friendly. However, that might stand to favour the team that doesn't need to score twice to advance.


  • Keep it tight at the back: As mentioned earlier, Forge will be the away team for this second leg. They do have a two-goal aggregate lead, but they'll need to be a little cautious, because they did concede an away goal in the opening game on Thursday. That means that, should they lose by a 2-0 scoreline, they would be eliminated -- a 3-1 score in favour of FAS would send us directly to a penalty shootout. Given how well Forge played in the first leg, a defeat of that nature feels unlikely. However, it's absolutely vital that Forge remain airtight at the back and avoid letting FAS back into the tie. The Salvadoran side did manage to break through Forge a couple times on Thursday, and they scored a scrappy goal from a corner kick after some dangerous build-up play. With a likely centre-back pairing of Dominic Samuel and Garven Metusala -- perhaps with Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson dropping in either as a holding midfielder or part of a back three -- Forge should be solid, particularly with Kwame Awuah and Jonathan Grant patrolling the flanks as fullbacks. According to Bobby Smyrniotis, though, the best defence for this tie might be a strong offence: "I think scoring a goal is important for us because it neutralizes that away goal, so we have to have that mentality in this game that we're gonna step forward. We know where we can attack, we know where we can find spaces, and we think the best way of defending in this match is to be a little bit on the front foot."​
  • Avoid extra-curriculars: If Forge can remain firmly in the driver's seat, perhaps even scoring once or twice to increase their lead and make things extra comfortable in the second half, then their focus might shift to preservation, with an eye toward the round of 16 (plus the handful of CPL matches they'll have to play before then). With a home contest against HFX Wanderers FC coming Sunday after a taxing journey back from El Salvador, we might see the pace slow down or perhaps some bench depth introduced to give key starters a brief reprieve from the grueling physicality of a Concacaf League match in the late stages. It's also vital that Forge maintain composure down the stretch; too often in knockout competitions like these, we see things get a little out of hand in the late stages as a desperate team on the brink of elimination tries to ramp up the intensity. Forge certainly won't want to risk any suspensions for the round of 16, so any kind of shenanigans outside of the play must be avoided. Tristan Borges is the only Forge player with a yellow card from the first game, so he'll need to be extra careful not to pick up a second and miss out on the next round.​
  • Borges rounding into form? Thursday night's first leg was perhaps the best game Tristan Borges has played since returning to Forge this past offseason. He looked hungrier to get on the ball and make things happen in attack, and he had a major role in all three Forge goals -- scoring the first and assisting the second two. Playing much of the game on the left wing, he combined very well with Kwame Awuah (who was outstanding in his fullback position), and Borges generally looked more comfortable and confident than he had in recent CPL outings. If he's able to pick up some form down in El Salvador and continue rolling, then Forge fans could be in for a treat both in this competition and back home in the league. "I know early on in the season maybe (Borges) hasn't had the results that he wants statistically, but he's one of many guys that need to contribute to this team," Smyrniotis said of his attacker. "He's had some injuries, and having to come back early to that due to a lot of injuries to our team, so he's a guy that's probably coming into proper shape and proper form now, which is a very good time for us both here in this competition and domestically... We just need him to keep on doing the same things, being simple on the pitch, making his movement in the right spaces, and it's the same thing we ask from everyone. We don't need the same guy to be the hero week in and week out, we've got a squad here."​


Forge FC wins: 1 || CD FAS wins: 0 || Draws: 0

Previous meeting:

August 12, 2021 -- Forge FC 3-1 CD FAS

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