2022 CPL Regular Season -- Match #4 Pacific FC vs. Forge FC April 10, 2022 at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.

A key rematch is on the cards in Langford this weekend. Just over four months after Pacific FC defeated Forge FC in the 2021 Canadian Premier League Final, granting the Islanders a chance to lift their first-ever North Star Shield as CPL champions, these two teams are getting set to meet again this Sunday on Vancouver Island to kick off each of their respective 2022 campaigns. And fresh off of memorable 2021 seasons for both clubs, it’s only fitting that they get to kickstart their 2022 seasons with such a rematch, especially given what they accomplished last year. On one side, there are the hosts, Pacific. A growing club since year 1, they finally hit their peak in 2021, storming through the regular season to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, and unlike in 2020, where they were just happy to be there, they came in with an intention of winning. Which they then went out and did, becoming the first team other than Forge to win the CPL, capping off a memorable season that also included a run to the semi-finals in the Canadian Championship. And because of that, it’s led them to believe that they can do the same this year, if not better. Even though they lost a key piece behind that success in head coach, Pa-Modou Kah, who departed the club this offseason to join North Texas SC, their new boss, James Merriman, is very familiar with this project, having been an assistant coach since day 1. As a result, he’s been through all of the ups and downs that Pacific have faced these last few years, making him the right person to take the reins of the project heading into this new season. With key names such as Marco Bustos, Manny Aparicio, Jamar Dixon and Callum Irving all returning, among many others, joined by some key signings in Amer Didic, Nathan Mavila and Kamron Habibullah, there is a lot of talent on this Pacific side, giving Merriman plenty to work with as he gets set to take the reins now. “We’ve grown every single season,” Merriman said during his pre-match press conference this week. “And we knew that was going to happen, we were a brand new club and organization, and our team had to come together for the first time in 2019. So we had a lot to learn as a staff, as players, as an organization, and I think we’ve continued to grow every season.”

PACIFIC FC: Pacific FC: 2022 Canadian Premier League Season Preview || Marco Bustos looks to lead Pacific title defence: ‘If I don’t believe, who’s gonna believe for me?’

But opposite of Pacific will be a very stiff test in the form of Forge. Despite their heartbreaking finals loss last year, the two-time champions still had a campaign to remember, on many fronts. From finishing first in the regular-season table, to qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League, becoming the first CPL side to ever achieve that honour, along with a run to the semi-finals in the Canadian Championship, Forge accomplished nearly everything they could’ve wanted in 2021. So heading into this year, with a large part of their core still in the fold, helmed by fourth-year head coach, Bobby Smyrniotis, they want to keep building on that, allowing them to reach even greater heights in 2022. And with returning standouts such as Kyle Bekker, Tristan Borges, Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson and David Choiniere now joined by some intriguing new additions, which include Aboubacar Sissoko and Ashtone Morgan, as well as former Pacific FC pair Terran Campbell and Alessandro Hojabrpour, there’s no reason why they can’t believe of being able to do so. So while it won’t be easy for Forge to take on the defending champions away from home to kick things off, it’s something they’re not too worried about, as they’re just focused on continuing to build on the foundation that has made them successful these past few years. “Of course, we’re on the road here, we want to put in a good performance,” Smyrniotis said this week. “And I think that’s the most important thing as we get into these games, it’s about looking at your building blocks, looking at what’s working for your team, what needs to be adjusted as you go forward. I think the group is ready, we’re ready to play, and I think it’s going to be an exciting game.”

FORGE FC: Forge FC: 2022 Canadian Premier League Season Preview || Tristan Borges aims for return to the top with Forge FC after ‘learning period’ in 2021

And through that, both sides will believe that they can get their campaign off to a strong start this weekend. In the 10th meeting between these sides, all of the games between the two have always been entertaining, even though Forge has mostly been on the right side of these games, holding a record of 9-1-1 (W-D-L) over Pacific, with their lone loss coming in last year’s final. But seeing that Pacific won the most important matchup between the two, that final, and that Forge has actually never won on opening day, sitting with a record of 0-2-1 (W-D-L) to start seasons, the hosts will certainly fancy their chances at winning, especially at home in front of their fans. Either way, if anything is to be sure, it’s that entertainment will be on the cards at Starlight on Sunday, as both teams look to kick off their seasons in style.

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 2022 CPL Final! To learn more about ComeOn!, click here. All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.


  • Familiar faces return to the Island: Fittingly, as they both have done the last three seasons, Alessandro Hojabrpour and Terran Campbell will start this season on the pitch with Pacific FC on Sunday. This time, however, things will be slightly different for the pair, as they’ll do so in Forge FC colours instead of Pacific’s, having transferred to the Hammers this offseason after each spending three years on the island. And because of that, it’ll be very intriguing to see how they respond to visiting a familiar stomping ground, this time in enemy colours. Two key pillars of Pacific’s time in the CPL, with both sitting as the top two appearance leaders for the club (all-competitions), and Campbell as Pacific’s all-time top scorer, it’s expected that they get welcomed back warmly, and rightfully so. But despite that, as soon as the whistle blows and the game kicks off, expect that to go out the window for the rest of the game, as they look to stick it to their former side, while Pacific will look to remind them of what they’re missing out on, as Merriman promised this week. “Yeah, our players will be (up for this), for sure,” Merriman said. “They (Campbell and Hojabrpour) were big parts of our team, and now they’re going to be on the other side, so our players will be up for that, and I’m sure some of our fans will be, as well.”
  • Pacific looking to maintain home-field advantage: A huge part of Pacific’s run to the final last year? Their ability to pick up points at home, as they finished the season with a record of 6-2-2 (W-D-L) at Starlight Stadium, where they picked up a very solid 20 out of a possible 30 points after starting the year in the ‘CPL Kickoff’ bubble tournament in Winnipeg. So seeing that they’re now opening this season at home right from the beginning, they’ll want to continue that, especially given that they will be able to play 14 games at Starlight, thanks to the return to a more normal schedule. Especially against this Forge team that has just visited Starlight just twice in CPL play, both coming back in 2019 (Forge won one and drew the other), Pacific will be eager to show that coming to the Island is a lot different task now than it was three years ago.
  • Forge’s double preseason: While it might be Pacific’s first competitive game since the final, the same can’t be said for Forge, who actually played a pair of games back in February in the Champions League, where they had to take on Mexican giants, Cruz Azul, in a two-legged series. And there, they did pretty well for themselves, too, losing just 4-1 to a team that’s a favourite to win it all this year, currently sitting in the semi-finals of that competition. But for Forge, it was quite the challenge to prepare for those games, given that the CPL season wasn’t set to start for another two months. Because of that, it led Forge to have to run two preseasons, one for the Champions League, and then one for the CPL campaign. And even within that plan, flexibility was a must for them, as they had to be prepared for the possibility that they qualified for the next round, making for quite the planning period for Smyrniotis and his staff. But they made it through, and because of that, have learned a lot about themselves in the process. “The great thing about the last couple of years is that it’s taught us coaches to stay on our toes, we haven’t had the most conventional seasons,” Smyrniotis noted. “But I’ll take different any day of the week when it means you’re playing continental football.”


Forge FC wins: 8 || Pacific FC wins: 1 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

December 5, 2021 – Forge FC 0-1 Pacific FC

Key Quotes:

“Yeah, I think we know what we can expect from them, they’ve been very consistent for the last three seasons. So we know who Forge is, we know how they play, and the mentality that they have, so we expect a good match. We have a group of players that are hungry, as well, and there are some who thought we could’ve done more in that final, and I know there are some questions about it from their side, as well, so we want to prove ourselves again, there’s no better way to start the season for us in our opinion, and the players are very much looking forward to the game.” -- Pacific FC Head Coach, James Merriman.

“It’s always important, it’s not a big thing about who you’re playing, but you always want to start off on the right foot. You look at Forge’s record over the years, it’s not like we’ve won on opening day in any of the three years, so it isn’t the catalyst of what comes after.” -- Forge FC Head Coach, Bobby Smyrniotis.

“Every single player on our roster is going to be expected to perform at some point in this season. And that's something that we firmly believe in. It's that old adage it takes a community, and we've shown over the years that we’ve leaned on every single player on our roster so (we need to) keep instilling that confidence in them to go out and express themselves.” -- Forge FC Captain, Kyle Bekker.

Continue reading...