2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #63 Forge FC vs. Valour FC July 23, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. ET Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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A measure of revenge is on the table for Forge FC this weekend as they welcome Valour FC to Tim Hortons Field for the second time this year, hoping for a reversal of fortunes from the 1-0 loss they suffered last time the Winnipeg club came to town just a few weeks ago. Forge enter this Saturday contest on a high, having beaten FC Edmonton with a club-record 5-1 scoreline on Tuesday. Woobens Pacius scored a hat-trick in that match, as the Hamilton side entrenched themselves a little more in the top four. Heading into Saturday’s game, Forge still occupy that fourth spot, now on 23 points with a record of 7-2-4. Roughly midway through the 2022 campaign, there have been a few highs and lows for Forge, but head coach Bobby Smyrniotis said on Friday that he’s been mostly quite happy with the football his team has played. "So far it's been pretty good. If we get three points tomorrow I think we'll be in a good spot for where we want to be halfway through the season," said Smyrniotis." We've been playing some excellent football, some of the best quality stuff we've been playing as a club over these past four years. A lot of new players integrated into the squad, which obviously takes a little bit of time to get going, but we've been good -- a few hiccups along the way, but even in a lot of those matches we've played some quality stuff." Valour, meanwhile, continue to chase Forge as they hunt for a first-ever playoff spot. They sit fifth right now with 20 points — just three back of Forge — with a record of 5-5-4. Last time out, Valour were in the nation’s capital, as they played out a 1-1 draw with Atlético Ottawa on Wednesday. Moses Dyer scored the goal for the Winnipeggers in that game with a penalty kick just 10 minutes in. With his side also around the midway point of its 2022 campaign, coach Phil Dos Santos took a moment after that game in Ottawa to evaluate how he’s felt about the way things have gone so far. "We started the season -- the first three or four matches -- well, but then we went through a patch where it was hard to evaluate the team because we were missing a lot of players and we were lacking options in certain positions," assessed Dos Santos after Wednesday's game. "Now we see all pieces come together, and that's brought stability to the team. It gives us options, and you look at the team in the last four games, getting 10 points, with three of those four games being on the road, we need to keep pushing now. We're in the right direction, but we can't sleep." As mentioned, the last time these sides met was a 1-0 away win for Valour back on June 29, as they spoiled the party of Kyle Bekker’s 100th game for Forge. Historically, this has been a reasonably well-matched fixture. Forge have the slight edge with six wins all-time, but Valour have take four contests and they’ve drawn once. With these sides competing directly for a playoff spot, there’s no margin for error in what should be another fascinating afternoon at Tim Hortons Field.

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  • Valour seek optimal way to adapt attack: Phil Dos Santos said after the Ottawa match that he doesn’t want to talk about William Akio anymore. Now that the dynamic winger has moved officially to Ross County in Scotland, it’s time for Valour to move on and find a way to fill his absence in the lineup. Of course, with Akio being such an important part of the attack — his pace and dribbling ability in particular were key to striking on the counter — that’s easier said than done. The arrival of Daniel Ascanio has helped; he’s been good on the right wing in Akio’s stead. Fellow Colombian Kévin Rendón could be part of the solution too, giving Valour a more creative presence to attack from midfield. Above all, though, Dos Santos needs his other attackers — Moses Dyer, Sean Rea, Walter Ponce, and others — to embrace the challenge and play fluidly together. "It's the sum of the parts, Dos Santos said. “There's a lot of important pieces that are only good and only perform when everything comes together."​
  • Forge hope to break through early: Last time they hosted Valour, Forge spent most of the game playing on the front foot and trying to break down a low block. They had 62% possession and threw 12 shots at the goal, but it was the visitors who got on the scoreboard thanks to a quick counter-attack in the second half -- finished by William Akio -- and they held off the rest of Forge's attempts to seal the win. This time, Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis is stressing the importance of Forge finishing their chances as early as possible; the later the match goes on without Forge scoring, the greater danger there is of a quick break for the opponents that can decide the game. In his prematch press conference, Smyrniotis pointed out that his side's best moments this season -- including on Tuesday against Edmonton -- have come when they've taken early leads and killed games off quickly. "[We need to] try to assert ourselves on the opponents, and do like we do in the games that go well," Smyrniotis said. "Get goals in the first half, and that fundamentally changes the whole look of the game and how the opponent plays against us."​
  • Valour look to extend hot road form: Earlier in the season, Dos Santos was quite frustrated by his team’s failure to secure wins at home. They made up for it, though, with an Ontario road trip that gave them six points out of six, thanks to wins over York United and Forge. Valour gained another crucial point at Ottawa midweek, and they’ll be keen on another good result away from home. "The team has been good on the road, even under difficult circumstances,” Dos Santos said Wednesday. “We need to keep going; the guys fight, they compete, they know what they want and we have established objectives... Travel, no travel; challenges, no challenges; rain or sun; injuries or not, the objective doesn't change."​


Forge wins: 6 || Valour wins: 4 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

June 29, 2022 — Valour 0-1 Forge


"Make sure we take our opportunities and finish one of them, that's the most important thing in a game like this. Valour's a team that works very hard, they work very hard off the ball and they're a tight-knit unit that really focuses on a team game, being physical." -- Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis

"Every game's important. I look at the tendencies of the top teams, not losing games, and they lose points when they play against each other. We go one game at a time... We have to play with the responsibility that all games become finals, even though we're at the halfway mark because it raises the intensity of the team, but we also need to know there's a lot of football to be played." -- Valour FC head coach Phillip Dos Santos

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