2021 CPL regular season — Match #76 Forge FC vs. Pacific FC September 25, 2021 at 7 pm ET Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca // Tickets available HERE




MATCH PREVIEW

The defending champions take on the anointed challengers this weekend, as Forge FC host Pacific FC at Tim Hortons Field for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon.

Forge, coming off Tuesday night's 0-0 draw in the Concacaf League against Independiente, will have to shift their focus back to the league as they look to challenge for home advantage in the playoff picture. The Hammers sit third in the CPL table right now with a 9-1-7 record and 28 points, meaning they're four back of second-place Cavalry FC and eight behind Pacific at the top.

In CPL action, Forge lost their most recent contest, having fallen 2-0 at home to York United back on September 11. Since then, though, they've beaten Valour FC in the Canadian Championship before, of course, that Concacaf match this past week.

"We've seen throughout the whole league that there's results going every single way," Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis said on Friday. "I try not to get too caught up in that; the importance of three points is always the importance of three points, it makes the next one a little bit easier. That's the way I look at it because in the end, we'll do the total and we'll see where things are. We've just got to be sharp in all these competitions so for me, you can look at the table right now but maybe in two weeks it's a lot different."

Meanwhile, Pacific FC will embark on a four-game road trip with this game, heading out east for the first time in 2021. They'll enter Tim Hortons Field riding a high of confidence, having beaten Cavalry FC 1-0 midweek to advance in the Canadian Championship. They're unbeaten in five consecutive CPL matches, although their last two were 1-1 draws -- both of which were games where the Tridents had the vast majority of chances, but they couldn't quite find the net enough to turn those results into wins.

Nonetheless, Pa-Modou Kah's Pacific sit atop the CPL at the moment with a 10-6-3 record for 36 points. This game against a side chasing them represents a significant opportunity for the Tridents, who would like very much to continue putting space between themselves and the teams just behind them, with those all-important home playoff games a real prize.

These sides have met twice already this year, with Forge getting the better of both occasions. The defending champions won 3-0 in early July, in their first real breakout win of this season, and later -- near the end of the bubble in Winnipeg -- Forge took a 2-1 triumph thanks to a pair of first-half goals (including a screamer from Kyle Bekker in the 30th minute).

"Looking back at those two games, we didn't finish our chances," Kah said of his side's previous meetings with Forge. "I think that's the only difference between us and them in those two games. We're a different team now than we were in the bubble."


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!


3 THINGS TO WATCH:

  • Surging Terran Campbell looks to maintain form: Don't look now, but Terran Campbell might be making a run at the Golden Boot. He's up to seven CPL goals now, and he's scored eight in his last 12 games across all competitions (including the winner in Wednesday's Canadian Championship game). The young attacker has flourished recently in an adjusted right wing role in the absence of Marco Bustos, and he's really become one of Pacific's top threats going forward. Campbell was named CanPL.ca's Player of the Week on Friday after a couple of particularly strong performances, and there's no reason to think he won't continue that form heading into Tim Hortons Field. "Terran is a very confident, very quiet guy, very introverted, but a strong-minded person," coach Pa-Modou Kah said. "Whatever Terran tells you, believe it.... This year he got impacted by all the circumstances without football, and I think he's finally in a place where he understands who he is and what he wants to achieve, what he's capable of and the confidence he has, and it's showing."
  • Forge trying to balance competitions: Not long after this game at Tim Hortons Field, the Forge players and staff will be on a plane to Panama for Tuesday's Concacaf League game against Independiente. It may be a challenge for Forge not to look past Saturday's match at that pivotal round of 16 contest, but they cannot afford to neglect a game against a side they're chasing in the standings. It helps, though, that this is a game against the side at the top of the table. "Guys are really focused on this game coming up because of our past history with Pacific teams," Forge fullback Kwame Awuah said on Friday. "It's always been a good game, we know this is gonna be a tough game so we can't go in there thinking we're going to squeeze out a result, we have to play our game as if it was any other big competition and treat the opposition with respect. They're in first place for a reason, they're the most consistent team right now, they're finding results and their players are playing at a high level right now so it's important for us if we want to continue doing well in this league, if we want to win the championship."
  • More help up front for Forge: At long last, highly-touted Panamanian striker Omar Browne will be available this weekend for Bobby Smyrniotis. Browne, who signed for Forge in the offseason on loan from (ironically enough) Independiente, had some visa issues that prevented him from joining up with the club for a while, but it seems that the problems have finally been resolved, as Browne has now participated in "three or four" training sessions with Forge, according to Smyrniotis. The 27-year-old attacker, who played previously for Montreal in MLS, is a dangerous goalscoring threat that Forge expect will make an impact in the homestretch of this season. Now that Emery Welshman has some minutes under his belt too, Forge's attack has plenty of new weapons now to help with their push across three different competitions over the next few weeks.


ALL-TIME SERIES

Pacific FC wins: 0 || Forge FC wins: 7 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

July 17, 2021 – Pacific FC 1-2 Forge FC

KEY QUOTES

"We know who Forge is. There's nothing new that they're gonna do differently than what they've been doing." -- Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah

"It's two very good teams in this league getting together to play, and usually these are crackers of games, some good football being played on both sides of the ball and that's what I expect tomorrow." -- Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis

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