It’s do-or-die time for Forge FC.
Facing the mathematical pressure of needing nothing less than a win on Saturday to preserve any hope for the Spring title, the Hamiltonian outfit heads to Spruce Meadows to take on an undefeated Cavalry FC for the fourth time, having previously fallen to the Calgary-based side at home, before falling short to this same team in their home-and-away Canadian Championship series.
So, the pressure is on for Forge FC, who need to hand Cavalry their first loss, ever, and then win their final match of the Spring season, while also hoping that a positive result on Saturday throws Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side into a loop such that they lose out the rest of their own campaign.
After that? Head-to-head, goal difference … all the variables and permutations one must consider when the margins are this thin. But, as Forge captain Kyle Bekker tells it, the focus will be on getting their own plan right.
“It’s a really big game for us,” Bekker told CanPL.ca ahead of Saturday’s fixture. “Obviously, we’ve had a few very good games against them … and they’ve been great in the Spring season so far. We know there’s a lot on the line for them if they get a result against us on Saturday so we kind of want to, I guess, spoil the party a little bit, and continue the great run we’ve had in the league over the last four games.”
“But,” he continued, “I wouldn’t necessarily say that we have pressure; they’re the ones who are undefeated. We’re coming in as underdogs.
“In all our previous games, it’d be fair to say we definitely took it to them for large portions. Credit to them, though – they’ve been great at withholding that pressure and waiting for their opportunity to strike, and they’ve been deadly on the attack. We have to be aware of that and be wary of where their strengths are, and do what we can to limit those chances they can create on the counter-attack, while also taking our chances to kill the game off.”
Bekker explained that his team has seen “definite positive progression” over the course of this Spring sprint, but outlined that their collective goal remains clear – put in a total 90-minute performance. To that end, a matchup against Cavalry on Saturday is the last opportunity for Forge to preserve their bid for the Spring berth of the 2019 CPL Championship (full details here).
Generous in his praise for his opponent, Bekker said this Cavalry team reminds him somewhat of his own San Francisco Deltas side, outlining that the Calgary-based outfit is “tough to break down,” has a “great winning spirit” and features plenty of players who “fight for each other.”
But, as he points out, Cavalry isn’t invincible.
“There’s a lot there that we have to respect,” Bekker said, of Cavalry. “They have a lot of things that a lot of teams in the league are looking at, which is a massive credit to them. They’re a great team.
“But, in the same voice, they’re not unbeatable. On paper, up until now? Yeah. But there is an opportunity there.
For Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis, that opportunity is clear: “Our obligation there is too keep pace and do our job. The message from the guys is that we’re not looking above or below us. We’ll take these last two games of the Spring season and make sure we get maximum (points) out of it.”
Smyrniotis concluded: “There’s not a lot of secrets going into this next match, so it becomes about execution. We’ve seen in both the matches, little details make the difference.”