‘Make the most of it’: Forge take continental defeat in stride

It was an ominous conclusion to Forge FC’s run in the 2019 CONCACAF League Thursday at San Pedro Sula in Honduras.

A match on mute, there was no big roaring sound when C.D. Olimpia scored – which they did four times en route to a 4-1 second-leg win, 4-2 on aggregate, to kick Forge from the round of 16 – as the match was held behind closed doors.

There was no crowd to walk by at the end of the match either, as Forge marched off in an end to the first continental run made by a Canadian Premier League side.

“We are happy with our progress in this tournament,” Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis said after the match. “You learn a lot from competitions like this and playing teams like Olimpia.

“We had three very positive results. We take a lot from it forward into our league play.”

Forge was put on the back foot early, with the home side looking to avenge a 1-0 first-leg loss at Tim Hortons Field. Jonathan Ferrari opened the scoring for Olimpia with a header in the 31st minute. Deybi Flores gave the hosts a second before halftime with a stunning outside-the-box blast.

Down 2-1 on aggregate, the tie’s first away goal was still up for grabs. They came close to striking on several occasions early in the second, before Junior Lacayo and Jerry Bengtson sealed Forge’s fate.

“I think they showed their intent in the first half, but I think we were good in some counter-attacking moments,” Smyrniotis said. “In the 70th minute, down 2-0, we had to push for a goal.

“We’ve tried to show we can play some good football. Maybe if we had a second goal at home, things would be different.”

A late consolation came for Forge and David Choiniere, who slotted home the club’s first goal outside of Canada.

“We were lacking a bit of energy at the end,” Choiniere said. “I think it’s been a good run for us. It’s a good experience for the young team like that.

“We’ll make the most of it.”

Chris Nanco’s fourth-minute first-leg goal was the difference last week in Hamilton, just as Choiniere’s marker was in the previous round, holding as the tie-winning goal against Guatemalan side Antigua GFC.

Two wins at home with a draw and a loss in Central America – a record, Smyrniotis insisted, wasn’t a bad return for a four-month-old club.

“It just makes us a little bit stronger,” Smyrniotis added.

“We’re disappointed … at the same time, we’ve been playing some fantastic football at home and we expect that to continue.”

Forge’s domestic campaign rolls on, as they sit top of the Fall standings, with a match Wednesday against Pacific FC at Westhills Stadium (10 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT, OneSoccer).