2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #108 Forge FC vs. Pacific FC October 5, 2022 at 7 p.m. ET Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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With the CPL Playoffs less than two weeks away, Tim Hortons Field will play host to a rematch of the 2021 Final on Wednesday night in a late-regular season appetizer for what may be in store later in October. Pacific FC pay their second visit of the year to Hamilton, hoping to avenge a defeat to Forge FC last time they travelled to this venue. James Merriman's Pacific roll into Ontario with some momentum, undefeated in four straight and winning both of their last two games. They secured their playoff spot over the weekend with some help from Cavalry FC's win over Valour FC, and now the final two games this week will be all about jockeying for position in the top four. The Tridents beat FC Edmonton 1-0 on Friday night thanks to a first-minute Marco Bustos goal, holding the Eddies back for 90 minutes to see out the clean sheet victory. They sit fourth in the league with 43 points, but they're only a point behind both Forge and Cavalry with two games remaining (and one in hand on the Cavs) so second place and home field for the semi-final second leg is a real possibility. Forge, meanwhile, are hoping to lock up their own position in the top two. With 44 points, they do have an outside shot at the regular season title as well: Currently sitting four back of Atlético Ottawa, Forge could win their last two matches at home and take the crown if Ottawa can't beat York United on Sunday. Like their opponents, Forge are unbeaten in their last four with two wins in that stretch. They defeated York United 2-0 at home on Saturday thanks to goals from Malik Owolabi-Belewu and Aboubacar Sissoko to clinch their own playoff spot, as they now look to continue their good form to end the regular season. These two clubs have had some heated battles this year after Pacific's 1-0 triumph at Tim Hortons Field in last December's CPL Final. Their last meeting was a 1-1 draw at Pacific just a couple weeks ago in September, but last time the Tridents came to Hamilton they were trounced 3-0 by a red-hot Forge team. "We want to have a stronger performance away from home at their field," Merriman said Tuesday. "We were okay at home against them, there were some things we could've done better for sure, both on the ball and off the ball, and there's things we want to see; we're gonna try things tomorrow in the match and we want to have a stronger performance away at their field." Above all, Forge and Pacific will want to get as many players into top form as they can -- without risking injury before the playoffs begin. Both sides are missing a couple key figures; Gianni Dos Santos and Djenairo Daniels will be out for Pacific with minor injuries, and captain Jamar Dixon missed out with a suspension. Forge, meanwhile, get their own skipper Kyle Bekker back from suspension, but it seems Daniel Krutzen remains out of the squad.

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  • Pacific attackers rounding into form: After going through a serious dry spell in the wake of Alejandro Diaz's departure, Pacific's attacking players have recently picked up the pace somewhat and started to collect some confidence. Marco Bustos' goal against Edmonton was his second of the year, breaking an eight-game scoreless drought. As one of the most talented players in the CPL, Bustos returning to form would be huge for Pacific heading into the playoffs. So, too, would be an uptick in confidence for Josh Heard and Djenairo Daniels, both of whom scored in Halifax last Tuesday. "The games previous we had defenders -- Didic and Kunle -- that stepped up and scored goals, and we challenged our attacking players, 'Come on, we need to push now,'" Merriman said this week. "Obviously with the sale of Diaz, and then Jordan Brown's come in, we've challenged our attacking players to be more aggressive, to be more direct, to go to goal. I'm really happy for Josh, for Bustos, for Daniels as well, and to have Manu [Aparicio] back as well, who connects our buildup into the final third."
  • Coaches balancing rest and momentum: With the playoffs approaching so quickly, and both teams having to play two games within a handful of days before that, coaches Bobby Smyrniotis and James Merriman have to strike a delicate balance between keeping their players in a good rhythm and ensuring nobody is worn out or injured heading into the semi-finals. Forge have traditionally shown a preference for playing their strongest lineup as much as possible -- at the very least, expect Kyle Bekker to start to shake off his rust after a three-game suspension layoff. Pacific, too, seem committed to going all out in this contest, particularly considering what they stand to gain if they can move up the table a bit this week. "I don't think the approach is gonna change," Merriman said. "We want to finish with maximum points and we still want to build into playoffs with a good momentum and a good mentality. We want to finish as high as possible, we know we have a chance to still finish top of the table."
  • Campbell to hit 100 games as CPLer against former team: It's somewhat ironic that Terran Campbell is set to play his 100th game in a Canadian Premier League jersey against his former club on Wednesday. The striker moved to Forge from Pacific this past winter after winning a championship with the Vancouver Island club last year, and he's become a key piece of the attack in Hamilton. Campbell has seven goals and four assists in all competitions for Forge in 2022, and Smyrniotis will be keen on seeing him pick up steam in these final regular season games considering he hasn't scored since Aug. 4 (10 straight appearances without a goal). Pacific are well aware of how good Campbell can be in the penalty area, but expect him to be a significant part of the game plan for the Hammers on Wednesday.


Forge wins: 9 || Pacific wins: 2 || Draws: 2

Previous match:

September 18, 2022 – Pacific 1-1 Forge


"We have goals that we set at the beginning of the year that we can still attain. We need to push, we need to go for maximum points. We can still win the league, we're still in that race so that's what we push for." -- Pacific head coach James Merriman

"It's part of the season that's important with these two games in front of us, trying to get as many points as we can playing at home. Everyone knows that it'll be a tough match against a Pacific team that's been doing relatively well in its last few games." -- Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis

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