Forge began their CONCACAF journey in the CPL’s Spring season, as they battled Valour FC and FC Edmonton in a mini-table for the right to represent Canada in the tournament. Having topped that qualification pool, they entered the CONCACAF League proper on August 1, when they hosted Antigua GFC of Guatemala.
Olimpia qualified for the CONCACAF League as runners-up in both the 2018 Apertura and 2019 Clausura competitions of the Liga Nacional de Honduras. They’ll enter the competition at this stage, having received a bye past the preliminary round. They already have a pedigree in this particular tournament, as they became the CONCACAF League’s first champions in 2017. Four games into their 2019-20 season, Olimpia sits second in the Honduran league with 10 points.
However, due to obligations in the 2019 Pan-Am games in Peru, Olimpia’s Honduran internationals Rembrandt Flores, Jorge Alvarez, Carlos Pineda, and Jose Reyes will not be travelling to Hamilton. Visa issues have also ruled out defender Jonathan Paz and Maylor Nuñez for the first leg, leaving the team with around 17 players available for selection.
Instead, they’ll likely be involved in Leg 2 of this tie, which takes place next Thursday, August 29 behind closed doors in San Pedro Sula (10 p.m. ET). Before then, though, Forge has a crucial CPL match, coming on Sunday at home against Cavalry FC (3:30 p.m. ET, on OneSoccer).
KEYS TO THE MATCH
Strange but familiar: Coming into this tie, both sides have a little more to work with than Forge or Antigua did in the preliminary round. Forge has now played (and won) a CONCACAF League tie, having survived their trip to Guatemala and beaten a team they knew nothing about. Olimpia has a lot more experience with traveling northward than Antigua, though; they played the New York Red Bulls in last year’s CONCACAF Champions League, and two seasons before that, they visited both the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps, causing serious problems for all three MLS sides.
Numbers game: Now that Forge has advanced to the round of 16, they might have more to think about than just getting past Olimpia. From this stage on, stats including points, goal difference, and away goals start to matter, since the top six teams by those metrics will qualify to the CONCACAF Champions League (a step above the CONCACAF League). Of course, objective number one for Forge is to try and knock off a very strong, experienced side, but this provides both teams a little extra motivation to win both legs outright.
Don’t waste home field: It’s absolutely vital that Forge starts this tie on the right foot. If they’re to have any hope of winning, they’ll need a result at home, as they did in the last round. The atmosphere down in Honduras will be incredibly hostile, and Olimpia could still be a little out of sorts playing on the road in Canada (despite their experience). If possible, this home leg is where Forge needs to dictate play as much as they can, and ideally score a few.
Forge FC: Triston Henry; Kwame Awuah, Dominic Samuel, David Edgar, Jonathan Grant; Kyle Bekker, Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson, Elimane Cisse; Kadell Thomas, Anthony Novak, Tristan Borges
CD Olimpia: Edrick Menjivar; Johnny Leveron, Ever Alvarado, Elmer Guity, Axel Gomez; Cristian Maidana, Michael Chirinos, Edder Deglado, Matias Garrido, German Mejia; Jorge Benguche