There’s a certain unspoken buzz around Forge FC’s camp as the Canadian Premier League opener sits mere days away.
It’s a buzz that’s a little hard to narrow down.
Is it the excitement of being ground-zero? The thought of thousands of fans awaiting them Saturday afternoon in Hamilton? Or maybe it’s the hype of a team that is, on paper, expected to contend for a title?
It may just be that head coach Bobby Smyrniotis has assembled a group of players that have bought in – a group that is hungry to play meaningful soccer.
If you ask around, players will offer you a taste of the potential tactics for when York9 FC comes to town. One word comes up every time: Perfection. Bobby Smyrniotis strives for perfection, and his players want to execute.
“It’s all in the little details,” striker Emery Welshman said of Smyrniotis’ approach to the game. “Be it throw-ins, goal kicks, corner kicks, or whatever moment it is, he wants perfection in every opportunity.”
“Rigid tactics,” goalkeeper Quillan Roberts offered, when asked what his coach is putting in place at training.
But don’t think for a second that the trust isn’t there for the skill players to do their thing.
“It’s rigid but we’re creative,” Roberts added. “It’s the way we go about it, sticking to the tactics but creating within that.”
One player entrusted with the opportunity to toe the line of the game plan will be Forge FC captain Kyle Bekker.
“We want it to go smoothly and set the tone for the rest of the season by playing positive, we want to be exciting, dynamic and aggressive,” Bekker said.
“But you know what, it’s funny because everyone talks about what we do with the ball and Bobby is very, very attack-minded … but I don’t think there is anyone that hates getting scored on more than him. It’s a huge part of what we are working on.”
Cleary, Forge FC plans to take games to their opponents. The trio of Bekker, Welshman and Roberts all made mention of creating goalscoring opportunities from maintaining their shape and taking advantage of openings when they come.
To make that happen, a team will need a lot of chemistry. Forge is confident that they have the formula. The only issue any of the players could pinpoint was that there aren’t enough positions on the field for everyone to be a part of opening day. That healthy competition is turned up this week.
“Bobby straight up told us nobody has a starting position coming in,” Roberts revealed. “So you just come in and work hard because nobody is safe and you want to be on the field.
Even the captain wouldn’t say if or where he will play for opening day.
“We’re really giving Bobby a headache on who gets on the field,” Bekker said. “We have a bunch of players that can play in the middle, like me, so you’ll just have to wait and see.”
A little versatility could go a long way for those wanting into Smyrniotis’ starting eleven.
“He has me playing all along our front line so I guess we will have to see on the weekend what he prefers,” Welshman said. “But honestly we could put anybody in a number of situations.”
At least one of the positions is easy to predict. Roberts will only play goalkeeper.
“Everyone has a job to do,” Roberts said. “My plan is to keep the clean sheet and get the team over the line.”
There are high expectations for the league’s founding club to bring it in front of the sold-out crowd at Tim Hortons Field. Though it may feel like it, there are no extra points up for grabs.
“Our mentality is that we need three points and take it week by week … it’s a marathon,” Kyle Bekker said. “But obviously we want everything to go smoothly and go great for the fans.”
And there will be a lot of fans on Saturday, and a win will go a long way in casting that buzz all over Hamilton. But the day may not have as much meaning compared to the one game that Bekker, Roberts and Welshman already have circled on their calendars.
“I want to be a CPL champion,” Bekker said.
“That’s it, I want to win a championship,” Roberts added.
Welshman took it a step further, adding the ‘P’ word his coach is aiming for.
“I put us up against the best teams any day of the week, so if we go perfect by the end of the season it would be a dream come true.”
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