CONCACAF League — Preliminary Round
Antigua GFC vs. Forge FC (1-2 agg.)
August 8, 2019 — Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores (8 p.m. ET)
Forge FC will ply their trade abroad on Thursday as they head down to Guatemala for Leg 2 of this CONCACAF League tie with Antigua GFC. Representing the CPL in a game outside of Canada for the first time, Forge carries a 2-1 aggregate lead into this game as they vie for a spot in the round of 16.
The first leg, last Thursday in Hamilton, was a nailbiter, as Forge overcame a one-goal halftime deficit and bagged the win at the death with David Choinière’s 91st-minute strike. Now, they find themselves in the driver’s seat for Leg 2, although Antigua does have that precious away goal to show for their trip up to Canada.
Forge didn’t play a CPL match over the weekend, having the full week off between legs. Antigua, however, had a league game on Sunday, a 1-0 road victory over Iztapa.
In terms of advancement scenarios, the path is clear for Forge: any sort of win or draw would be enough to put them through, as would a 3-2 loss (or any loss where they score more than once). A 1-0 win for Antigua sends them to the round of 16 on away goals, and a 2-1 Antigua victory means the tie comes down to a penalty shootout. Whoever does get through from this tie will go on to play Honduran side Olimpia in the next round.
Something of note for this match: Technically, it’ll be a road trip for both teams (albeit a much longer one for Forge). It’s slated to be played in Guatemala’s 22,000-seat national stadium in Guatemala City, about an hour from the city of Antigua, rather than the club’s regular 9,000-seat venue.
After this, Forge will have some time off before they return to the CPL. Their next contest will be Saturday, August 17, when they’ll head to Winnipeg for a game against Valour FC (6:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. CT, on OneSoccer).
KEYS TO THE MATCH
- Hostile territory: No CPL club has been here before. Much moreso than Leg 1, this will be an entirely new experience for Forge, who will have to contend with the notoriously daunting atmosphere of a Central American football crowd. Fortunately, they’ll be entering with some confidence, having now figured out how Antigua play and bringing a one-goal lead with them. They’ve also got the added help of David Edgar, who’s made trips like this countless times with the Canadian men’s national team. This match will be all about Forge’s ability to hold their nerve on a battleground completely alien to them.
- Tropic thunder: The forecast for this week in Guatemala appears to be thunderstorms across the board, with as much as 20 millimetres of rain expected on Thursday. That’ll be a challenge for both teams, who may have to operate on a squishy pitch, whether or not it’s raining at kickoff. A muddy field and a wet ball will make it tough for Forge to play their passing game through midfield, so they may have to play an uglier game to try and get it up to their attackers.
- Keep it tight: Antigua is the side that desperately needs a goal. So, they’ll be doing all they can to try and stretch out Forge’s midfield and defence with dummy runs and rapid switches of play. Bobby Smyrniotis will have to drill his side to keep their shape as much as possible and not over-commit to Antigua’s attackers, even if it may require a defence-first, conservative approach to the match. A draw would do Forge just fine; they’d certainly like to add a goal, especially since a 1-0 win eliminates them, but they can’t seek offence at the expense of organization at the back.
Forge FC: Triston Henry; Kwame Awuah, David Edgar, Daniel Krutzen, Jonathan Grant; Kyle Bekker, Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson, Elimane Cisse; David Choinière, Marcel Zajac, Tristan Borges
Antigua GFC: Luis Moran; Cristian Jimenez, Jose Pinto, Jose Mena, Juan Osorio; Marco Dominguez, Pablo Mingorance, Andres Lezcano, Jairo Arreola, Edgar Pacheco; Anllel Porras
HEAD TO HEAD
August 1 – Forge FC 2-1 Antigua GFC
Tristan Borges – 7 goals (Forge FC)