2021 CPL regular season (The Kickoff) — Match #8 FC Edmonton vs. Forge FC July 1, 2021 at 8:00 pm ET/ 7:00 pm CT IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca

Both looking to bounce back from season-opening losses at The Kickoff, FC Edmonton and Forge FC meet at IG Field on Thursday for a Canada Day clash to end the midweek action in the CPL. FC Edmonton came within ten minutes of a draw against Atlético Ottawa in the first match of the 2021 season on Saturday, but a late goal from Viti Martínez earned Ottleti their first three points of the new campaign and a 1-0 win. After coming on for the Eddies in the second half, Easton Ongaro came closest to scoring for his club, forcing a huge save by former teammate Dylon Powley. They thought they scored in the first half, as Tobias Warschewski's low shot found its way into the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed because Shamit Shome was judged to be offside by the narrowest of margins. Overall, it was a positive performance from an Edmonton side looking to improve on a disappointing Island Games tournament, and with a new head coach, Alan Koch, managing his first game for the club. "Two emotions, happy and disappointed," said Koch of how he felt after the narrow defeat. "Happy with the effort and the performance, but disappointed with the result. "I think for our first game that we played together as a group ever, with this coaching staff and group of players, I was very happy with the performance... We've got ourselves up and running, but we know this is going to be a process. We've played one game together, we saw good things and we saw areas of growth, and I'm sure we're going to see the exact same things in the next game too." Forge FC took the field on Sunday for a match with Valour FC, and fell 2-0 to the hosts. They fielded a very strong lineup -- handing a debut to former Canadian men's national team centre-back Dejan Jakovic, as well as a start to 2019 MVP Tristan Borges in his return to the league (on loan) from Belgium. Jakovic gave up a penalty less than six minutes into the match, which Moses Dyer converted, and Austin Ricci made it 2-0 shortly after with an impressive solo goal. After virtually no preseason, Forge were always going to look a little rusty, so with a match under their belt, and a few more days of training, they could be a bit sharper in match number two. Apart from giving up the penalty, Jakovic put up a strong performance, including an interception, making three tackles and having a 92.3% passing accuracy on 78 passes. Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis was impressed by his new centre-back. "Dejan was excellent," Smyrniotis said ahead of Thursday's match. "He controlled the aerial counter attacks of Valour -- all the balls in the air -- and got us started in his movements. But this is a guy who has trained nine times with the team. He was very good." Smyrniotis also spoke in his pregame press conference about the debut of Garven Metusala, and the return of Tristan Borges to the CPL on Sunday. "Valour did a good job with Borges, and closing down that side of the field, and I think they overcompensated that way, which opened up the right side for us, which we were perfectly fine with," he said. "That's where we thought we created a lot of situations, with Johnny Grant and David Choinière. "And Garven is a player we believe in," he added. "He's shown very good things and I think he's a versatile player who's going to play a lot of different roles for our team over the season."


  • Will Forge's strong group of forwards bounce back?: Edmonton, like Valour did on Sunday, have a strong and organized group of defenders, but there's a case to be made that Forge's attack, on paper, is the best that the league has ever seen. A group that includes the two CPL MVPs thus far, Tristan Borges and Kyle Bekker -- as well as Mo Babouli, Paolo Sabak, David Choinière, Chris Nanco off the bench, and didn't even have Omar Browne in Sunday's squad -- is enough to strike fear into any opponent, although they didn't necessarily show it on Sunday. As mentioned, Smyrniotis liked the duo of Johnny Grant and Choinière on the right flank against Valour, but admits that throughout the match they were missing the clinical finishing to score a goal. "Maybe we didn't get the final result we wanted out of them in that component of the field. These are little things that we look to fix up," said Smyrniotis. When this group starts firing on all cylinders, watch out.​
  • Edmonton's battle for minutes up top: After suffering a wrist injurt, FC Edmonton star striker Easton Ongaro was limited to half an hour off the bench in Edmonton's season opener. While he'd be a lock to start when fully healthy, The Eddies had two players stand out at the top of a 4-4-2 formation against Atlético Ottawa. German forward Tobias Warschewski was impressive in his CPL debut, and looked like a real handful for Ottawa's defenders in his 63 minutes on the pitch. He probably should've had a goal as well, if not for a tight, controversial offside call. He'll be one to watch this season, and could cause problems for Forge's backline, like Austin Ricci did this past weekend. The other starter up top on Saturday for Edmonton was Thomas Gardner, the first overall pick in the 2021 CPL-U Sports Draft. Gardner, finally making his CPL debut after being drafted twice previously by Pacific FC, looked lively over 80 minutes, completing 90.6% of his passes and moving well off the ball. One of them will have to make way when Ongaro is ready to return, although Gardner can also play in midfield, should Koch want to keep him in the starting lineup.​
  • David Edgar's leadership behind the scenes: After winning two North Star Shields with Forge, legendary Canadian defender David Edgar hung up the boots and joined the club's staff as an assistant coach. After playing with so many of the team's current players over the past two seasons, Edgar has become an important extra set of eyes for Smyrniotis. "I think it's always good to have more eyes on the pitch at different things," Smyrniotis said on Wednesday. "David has some responsibilities when it comes to certain things within the game, like set pieces -- some things that he'll work on individually with the defenders in the game. It's also a big learning curve for him, coming from the other side of the pitch -- it's always interesting for a player, once they switch sides, how many things they see that they didn't see before... and how many apologies they give to the coaches," he added with a smile.​

ALL-TIME SERIES FC Edmonton wins: 2 || Forge wins: 3 || Draws: 1

Previous match: August 16, 2020 – Forge FC 2-0 FC Edmonton


"This is an opportunity for us to grow, figure out who we are, what we have. Saturday was the first game that I've seen some of our players play live -- we've scouted, we've watched, but now we have some feedback on individual players. I feel like we grew from that experience. The desired outcome on Thursday night is to continue to grow." -- FC Edmonton head coach Alan Koch

"I think they're going to be a very organized team... They have so many new players, and are starting the season with competitive matches, it doesn't give a coach an opportunity to see everything through and I think [Alan Koch] needs to figure out his team. What we will see is a very organized team on the pitch, and that's what we expect." -- Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis

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