2021 CPL regular season (The Kickoff) — Match #11 Forge FC vs. Pacific FC July 4, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET/6:00 pm CT IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca

Forge FC is set to face Pacific FC Sunday evening at IG Field searching for their first goal and first points of the season in the ComeOn! Match of the Week. Dealing with a very reduced preseason to prepare for their first two matches during The Kickoff, Bobby Smyrniotis’ team has lacked cohesion in the final third, dropping consecutive 2-0 results to Valour FC and FC Edmonton respectively despite enjoying the majority of possession on both occasions. Much was made of the loan return of 2019 MVP Tristan Borges and the potential dynamic duo he and Mo Babouli could form and yet neither have lived up the hype to date for the Hammers. While some back home in Hamilton might have one finger on the panic button, Smyrniotis suggests the reigning champs will stick to the style that has brought them so much success the past two years: “We want to keep on doing what we’re doing… but nobody’s going to joke on the other line here and say we don’t want six points from these last few games,” the Forge coach said Friday. “Right now okay the results aren’t there, but we know those will come.” Pacific has gotten off to a fairly positive start in Winnipeg, picking up four points from a possible six, following up an impressive 2-0 win over HFX Wanderers in their opener with a 2-2 draw against York United. While Pa-Modou Kah and his group were slightly disappointed to drop points against York on Thursday, they have “no time to dwell” on their last match as they look ahead to Forge this weekend with the potential for the Hammers to come to life on their mind: “If you allow a champion to get into a groove, it can be a long game,” Kah told reporters on Friday. It’s been a fixture dominated by Forge historically but Pacific has continued to make strides since their inaugural season, impressing at last year’s Island Games — although Forge topped them 2-0 on September 12 — and showing signs of further progress so far in 2021. In a match between two teams with plenty of firepower up front and a tendency to dominate the ball, don’t allow the current gap separating Forge and Pacific in the table to deceive you ahead of what should be a hotly contested affair on Sunday night.


  • Can Forge find end product? Much of Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ chatter of needing time to get up to speed was viewed as mind games by media and opposing coaches ahead of the season starting last weekend. Now two games into the year and Forge are still looking for their first point and first goal of the year — it appears that assessment was one of honesty rather than deception. With Tristan Borges, Mo Babouli, Chris Nanco and an embarrassment of riches in their attacking group, it feels inevitable that the Hammers will sort out their scoring woes sooner rather than later. As Smyrniotis suggested before the match on Friday, the chances have been there for the taking already: “We’ve created a lot of situations in the final third that should materialize to a final product and maybe we’re missing a little bit of that explosiveness to get into the box or that decision to cut the ball back at the right moment.” In a match with the prospect of plenty of open space, could the Forge front three finally come to life against Pacific?
  • Physicality could help limit Pacific, Bustos: The Tridents looked perhaps the most impressive of all eight teams during the opening weekend of the season with Marco Bustos rightfully stealing much of the headlines for his strong attacking display. Clearly, Jimmy Brennan and his York staff caught the contest ahead of their game against Pacific as the Nine Stripes were in the face of Pa-Modou Kah’s side all night with Bustos taking the brunt of the damage. Bustos was limited to just 41 touches against York and 22 total passes — some 20 lower than he enjoyed in both categories against the Wanderers. While Forge will be placing much of their attention on sorting things out in the attacking third on Sunday, affording Bustos as little breathing space as possible should help them limit the time they spend defending.
  • All-important first goal: For two sides that tend to dictate the tempo of the match, it’s unlikely either one of Forge or Pacific concede the majority of possession and sit deep — something both Edmonton and Valour had success in doing against Forge. “We’ve seen the first two games two teams go into extreme low blocks to defend us which obviously has counter-attacking opportunities,” Smyrniotis told media of the way their two recent losses played out. Known more for advancing their full backs and getting as many players into the opposing half as possible, Pacific is expected to stick what they know best and go out Forge as they have York and Halifax, at least to start the match. Forge will be desperate to get their first win of the season while Pacific is yet to beat the Hammers in six previous attempts dating back to 2019. If either team strike early, it will be worth assessing how they adjust their tactics to see out the remainder of the match.


Forge FC wins: 5 || Pacific wins: 0 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

September 12, 2020 - Forge FC 2-0 Pacific FC


“We know Pacific has a specific identity they want to play, they want to be on the front foot, so I think that makes for a little bit of a different matchup.” — Bobby Smyrniotis, Forge FC head coach

“After losing twice, they’re for sure going to get up for this game, they don’t want to lose three times in a row. And for us, we have to be ready and get sharp from the get-go.” — Pa Modou-Kah, Pacific FC head coach

Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 CPL Final!

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