2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #17 York United vs. Forge FC May 6, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. ET York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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For the second straight weekend, the Canadian Premier League has a 2021 playoff semi-final rematch on the schedule. After Cavalry was able to get a measure of revenge on Pacific FC for ending their season last year, York United will be looking to follow in their footsteps against Forge FC on Friday night at York Lions Stadium. Forge emerged 3-1 winners during that sem-final day back in November, ending what was an impressive 2021 season from a very young York side. Since then, a lot has changed for the Nine Stripes, including the man in charge. But while Friday will be just his fifth match at the helm of York United, Martin Nash is no stranger to Forge. During his time as an assistant with Cavalry, he was on the touchline for several big matchups against the Hamilton outfit, including the 2019 Canadian Premier League final. Now as a head coach, the match will be a good measuring stick for his group early in the season. "It is a good test for us to see where we stand against who has been the best team in the CPL for the first three years," Nash told media on Thursday. Nash and York are coming off of a wild 2-2 draw with Atlético Ottawa, where a stoppage-time goal from Dominick Zator was enough to rescue a point. After dropping their season opener against Halifax, York is undefeated in their last three matches. The York team will be looking to extend that run, while one of its players looks to continue a streak of his own. The De Rosario name is no stranger to records and recognitions, and Osaze De Rosario could extend that fact to another generation. With legendary father Dwayne in the stands at York Lions Stadium last weekend, Osaze converted a penalty, making it three straight games with a goal. Should he score on Friday, he would tie Forge FC's Tristan Borges' league record of four consecutive games with a goal. "He's got great energy, works really hard, he has the ability to finish from short and long so he can score all types of goals," said Nash about what has made De Rosario one of the most prolific strikers in the league so far this year. "He's been big because we were without Lowell [Wright], and he was our only striker for a couple of games and once he got his chance he's played really well. He's scored three goals in his first three starts, so we are hoping he can continue that tomorrow". When asked if preserving his teammate's record gave him any more motivation to shut down De Rosario, Forge defender Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson chuckled. "I don't really think about that kind of stuff, I never want to concede goals, so that's all the incentive I need for not having them score". De Rosario isn't the only player chasing history this weekend. After scoring a brace two weekends ago against FC Edmonton, Terran Campbell is just a single goal away from tying former Eddies striker Easton Ongaro for the Canadian Premier League goals record when combining playoffs and the regular season. Campbell has scored 24 goals in all Canadian Premier League competitions to date. Having started their season earlier than any other club in the league with Concacaf Champions League duty back in February, Forge had a rare week off as their match this past Sunday against Valour was postponed due to League Covid Protocols. They are coming off their first win of the season, a dominant 3-0 win over FC Edmonton. Since meeting each other in the league's opening fixture back in 2019, a 1-1 draw, Forge has generally had the upper hand in the rivalry. Their playoff win last year was the eighth time they have defeated the Nine Stripes, while York has defeated Forge just four times in its history. "We know with York it is always a tough game, I think they always raise their level when they play us as well, it is a bit of a derby," said Achinioti-Jönsson. "So the games are usually exciting."

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  • York's attack continues to add weapons: De Rosario's prolific scoring record has made at least one roster decision very easy for Nash so far this season. Picking who starts alongside him going forward, however, will be tricky as the York coach is blessed with a wealth of attacking options. Lowell Wright, Austin Ricci, Max Ferrari, and Oliver Minatel, to name a few, are all elite attacking players in the league. His decision will be made slightly easier tomorrow as Minatel is set to miss out with a hamstring injury, while Ferrari is a game-time decision. Going forward, however, it will get even more difficult as the team adds highly-touted Argentine attacker Lisandro Cabrera, who is finally flying into Canada tomorrow and could be available as early as Tuesday in the Canadian Championship. Finding the right balance with that group will be crucial to unlocking its attacking potential. De Rosario, Ricci and Wright, in particular, can play multiple positions interchangeably which will make them a nightmare for opposing defences. "They have shown that they are a dangerous team, they are a dangerous team in different facets of the way they attack, with their wide play and counterattacking play," said Forge manager Bobby Smyrniotis, later adding, "that's the biggest thing we are looking forward to is that challenge that they bring, they are a team that brings a lot of energy to the field". One last thing to watch from the York offence is their proficiency on set pieces. Zator's goal against Ottawa came off a late free-kick, and York lead the league in chances created from set-pieces with 13.
  • Forge deal with an unexpected weekend off: Forge players were all geared up and ready to fly out to Winnipeg this past weekend when they got the news that the match was going to be postponed. While the unexpected bye week did allow Forge to get a little healthier, with Symrniotis saying they are "90%" back to fitness, there are definite challenges with having time off after just three matches played. "You want rhythm early in the year," Symrniotis told media on Thursday. "I don't like a lot of rest. We're used to going quite often with games. That then makes this one a little more interesting. We've had time to work on a few different things that we wanted to work on". Both Symrniotis and defender Alex Achinioti-Jönsson did mention that the team was able to have a good couple of weeks of training, ramping up the intensity this past weekend to keep match fitness. One final benefit, however, according to Achinotti-Jönsson is that Forge does have quite a busy schedule coming up with the Canadian Championship starting on Wednesday so the chance to rest wasn't fully unwelcome.
  • A good test for the York defence: Last year, without question the biggest flaw in York's game was their ability to defend. They allowed the third-most goals in the league last season with 39, and actually overperformed their expected goals against which were second-worst at 48.83. Only Atlético Ottawa allowed more passes into their box than York did last season. They have been much better so far this season, something Smyrniotis was quick to point out in his pre-match presser. York is tied with Forge and Halifax for the fewest goals (four) conceded so far this season, and have also only allowed four big chances against. "Just a little bit of organization, simplifying some things, making sure everyone is on the same page," said Nash when asked about where he has seen improvement from his backline. "It is getting better, I think, every week. We aren't giving a lot of chances away and we hope to do the same tomorrow". Forge, however, is their biggest defensive test yet, a side that already this year has shown an ability to carve open opponents in several different ways.


York United wins: 4 || Forge FC wins: 8 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

November 21, 2021 — Forge FC 3-1 York United


“[Forge] have had a lot of time to work and freshen up, but it can be a good and a bad thing. It can mean they come out hungry and flying or they can be just a little bit off it and have to get back their rhythm. They are an experienced team so I'll expect them to come out flying and we will have to match that from the get-go.” -- York United Head Coach Martin Nash

“The games have always been excellent. [York] has always been a tough team for us to play. Like with every year there is change over in squads, and things change a little bit this year. York has a new head coach, a different approach to how they go about the games and I think that's what we are looking forward to most tomorrow night.” -- Forge FC Head Coach Bobby Smyrniotis

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