Forge and Cavalry to renew rivalry during CPL’s 2023 opening weekend

Forge FC and Cavalry FC might well be incapable of playing a boring match. Since the dawn of the Canadian Premier League, each meeting between these two sides, including six knockout matches in all competitions, has produced new and unique storylines and twists. There have been red cards, fisticuffs, world-class goals, chants and all the critical elements of any top rivalry match.

Cavalry manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr. has often likened matches between his side and Forge to “heavyweight bouts,” where both sides are standing and trading punches.

Over the course of its history, Forge has certainly landed the more significant punches. They defeated Cavalry over two legs in the inaugural CPL final, and did so again during last year’s semifinal. The second leg of the 2022 semi in Hamilton, in particular, saw the rivalry’s trademark fireworks as both sides had players sent off before halftime. Forge would go on to win their third title in the league’s four-season existence.

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On Saturday, April 15, Cavalry and Forge will renew acquaintances to open their respective 2023 seasons at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, kicking off at 4 p.m. ET (2 p.m. MT).

As arguably the two most successful sides in the league’s short history, the intensity of the 21 matches played in all competitions between Cavalry and Forge has been matched only by the quality. They have also historically been incredibly close contests, as only once in the history of this fixture has a side won by more than a single goal. It has also produced some of the most technically brilliant football the league has ever seen, and the fixture has been a great exhibition of the ever-rising on pitch quality within the CPL.

Making this rivalry all the more meaningful is the cast of characters who have been there since the very beginning. There’s the “pantomime villain” — as he was once dubbed by Wheeldon Jr. — José Escalante, or Marco Carducci who saved a Tristan Borges penalty at Tim Hortons Field during the 2019 Final. Borges himself would then score later that game, before being sent off. Then there’s Sergio Camargo, who scored the winner to help Cavalry beat Forge in the 2019 Canadian Championship preliminary round, or David Choinière, who has scored in both playoff series between the two sides.

The list goes on, and the managers for both clubs headline it. Wheeldon Jr., and Forge’s Bobby Smyrniotis, are the only two remaining managers of the league’s original crop. Both have been leaders within the league, building impressive programs that have become model CPL clubs and they certainly relish the opportunity to face one another in what is often a fascinating tactical chess match.

Regardless of whether it is the CPL Final, or game one of the regular season, both of these sides absolutely despise losing matches, and it is a big part of the DNA that has made them successful. More than that, they hate losing to each other and that intensity is always clear any time Forge plays Cavalry, making it a must-watch affair.

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