2022 CPL Regular Season -- Match #7 Forge FC vs. Cavalry FC April 16, 2022 at 4 p.m. ET Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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Forge FC will take on another former CPL Final foe on Saturday, as they welcome Cavalry FC to Tim Hortons Field for the Hamilton club's 2022 home opener. Both sides will be looking to break into the win column for the first time in this campaign, having both gone away from home and lost in the season's opening weekend. Forge lost a spirited 2-1 affair on Vancouver Island, as Pacific FC came out on top in a rematch of the 2021 CPL Final -- although Forge did get on the board late with an Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson header from a set piece. Cavalry, meanwhile, lost their season opener away from home too, 1-0 to Atlético Ottawa thanks to a penalty kick in the 81st minute. They'll be in Ontario once again hoping to score their first goal of the new season. Bobby Smyrniotis' Forge side has long been one of the strongest sides in the CPL, especially on home turf. Last season they had six wins, a draw and three losses at Tim Hortons Field -- two of the defeats coming at the hands of York United, and the third coming to Cavalry near the end of the year when they had already secured their playoff spot. In 12 CPL matches in Hamilton last year -- including both playoff games -- Forge scored 21 goals and allowed just 10. They also finished at the top of the table in 2021 with 16-2-10 (W-D-L) record, which meant they played both the semifinal and CPL Final at home (though they lost the championship match to Pacific). "You always look forward to playing at home, it's something special playing in front of the crowd here," Smyrniotis said in his prematch media call. "On the field that's been so good to us over the first few years here, having a great record at home, we get a lot of energy from the crowd. They're excellent, the Barton St. Battalion and all the other supporters that are here. And I always say our pitch gives us an ability to play our game at our best, with it being -- I think -- the largest pitch in the league."

RELATED: Match Analysis: Pacific FC 2-1 Forge FC || Match Analysis: Atlético Ottawa 1-0 Cavalry FC

Cavalry, likewise, have been near the top of the table in each of their three CPL seasons. In fact, their 125 total regular season points earned is more than any other club in the league. In 2021, the Cavs finished level with Forge on points with 50, missing the top spot on tiebreakers. Tommy Wheeldon Jr.'s side hosted Pacific in their semifinal, but lost in extra time to miss out on the Final -- which, had they qualified, would've been a rematch of the inaugural CPL Finals in 2019, which Forge won 2-0 on aggregate. "Every point on the road is a bonus, whether it's one or three; it just adds to the overall total because of our home record," Wheeldon told reporters Thursday. "Last season, in a very strange year, we only lost six. We don't lose many in our overall record, so it becomes unfamiliar. Matches between these two sides have historically been fierce, even dating back to their clashes in 2019 (including a vicious Canadian Championship), with an astounding 63 yellow cards dished out across 14 matches, plus four red cards. Both fanbases have developed a sharp dislike of the opposing team in this matchup, with a number of villains on either side -- from Cavalry's José Escalante to Forge's Tristan Borges. Both teams enter this match dealing with some injury issues -- the Cavs are without the four players recovering from long-term injuries, although they'll be boosted by the return of Mason Trafford and Myer Bevan to fitness, while Forge will be missing Daniel Krutzen, also waiting to see if Tristan Borges, Emery Welshman, or Triston Henry might be fit to play this game. Nonetheless, these two ferociously competitive sides are sure to deliver a spectacle on Saturday, as they each look to bank their first points of the 2022 season.

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  • Forge look to click in final third: Forge left Vancouver Island last Sunday reasonably satisfied with the way they'd played, despite the defeat. Coach Bobby Smyrniotis has been vocal recently about his desire to see his team score easier goals and create better opportunities in the opposing penalty area; he saw signs of that progress against Pacific, and he was very pleased with his team's ability to get to that final third, but that last piece of the puzzle remains a work in progress. "We've entered Pacific's box on 24 occasions, and on 18 of those occasions we're in the zones we have to be in from the metrics we use here," Smyrniotis said of his side's attacking performance last weekend. "It's about getting into certain areas on the field. We put a lot of pressure on them deep in their third and it's just a matter of executing. We needed to be a little sharper in those zones, sometimes take an extra second to make that final pass and get defenders moving."
  • Injuries dictate necessary shake-up: Both of these teams have been hit quite hard by injuries to begin the season. Cavalry, of course, lost Tom Field, Joe Di Chiara, Anthony Novak, and Tyson Farago to serious injuries, which has seriously impacted their depth. Without Field in particular, Tommy Wheeldon Jr. had to get creative with his fullback alignment last weekend in Ottawa, using Ben Fisk and Fraser Aird as wingbacks on either side of a back three, having a solid array of capable ball-playing centre-backs. There's depth in midfield -- Charlie Trafford, Victor Loturi, Elliot Simmons, and possibly Elijah Adekugbe depending on his health -- to make up for missing Di Chiara, as well. Forge, on the other hand, had to make a major shift mid-game at Pacific, when Ashtone Morgan went down to injury. Kwasi Poku came in to play the left side and did so quite well, but he might not be Smyrniotis' first-choice left-back. The absences of Tristan Borges and Emery Welshman up front also hurt Forge a little. Smyrniotis said Thursday that Borges and goalkeeper Triston Henry should be available for this match, with Morgan and Welshman listed as day-to-day, so any involvement from them would be a boost to the Hammers.
  • Cavs making best of early road swing: Cavalry's schedule in the early going of this season is difficult, with five of their first six games away from home -- including a three-game all-Ontario swing to start the campaign. However, as Tommy Wheeldon Jr. pointed out, that means they'll have plenty of home games down the stretch to help them pick up momentum late in the season. It's never easy to go away from home in the CPL, and particularly not to Tim Hortons Field, but this is not necessary an unwelcome situation for the Cavs. In Wheeldon's view, any points they can bank on the road will help put them over the top when complemented by a stellar home record. Plus, when they do get home to ATCO Field, the stadium's grass pitch will be in far better condition than it would have been these first few weeks. "We don't like easy. It's professional sports," Wheeldon said. "The climate here (in Calgary), there's snow on the ground, the grass would be frosty; we've just got to play as many early games on the road as possible, so the run-in really is where it's at. If we take care of our home business, everything we do on the road in terms of picking up points is a benefit."


Forge FC wins: 6 || Cavalry FC wins: 4 || Draws: 2

Previous match:

November 15, 2021 – Forge FC 0-1 Cavalry FC


“What I've enjoyed is the tactical matches. If you look at 2019, there's 40, 50 players between the two squads and I think there's 18 of them left, so there's a lot of new faces in the teams. Mostly what you look at is you look at two teams that have been very successful in the three years of this league in different measures; they're teams that want to win, that want to go out there and do things their way to get to the victory.” -- Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis

“They're physical, good on the ball, and we know the rivalry between Forge and Cavalry. It's gonna be a physical, intense game with all the tackles. The team that runs the most and wins the most duels will win the game.” -- Forge FC defender Garven Metusala

"It's a terrific game, we love those games. It's gone back and forth, they won the title early in the first year... Last year, we edged them; we beat them twice and they never came to Spruce Meadows. Yet again we're going to Tim Hortons Field, so we know how to go there and have a really good battle against them. We really fancy our chances." -- Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

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