Forge FC announces four returning attackers for 2022

Forge FC announced on Monday that four attacking players from their 2021 roster will be returning to the club in 2022.

The club exercised contract options for Chris Nanco, Emery Welshman, and Woobens Pacius, while Panamanian forward Omar Browne has had his loan from CA Independiente extended in order to remain in Hamilton.

Nanco, a 26-year-old North York, Ontario native was a foundational player for Forge, signing as one of the club’s first-ever players in November 2018. Since then, the winger has played 61 times for Forge, scoring nine goals and providing two assists. In 2021, he made 24 appearances, managing to work his way back from injury to come off the bench in Forge’s CPL semi-final win over York United.

Prior to joining the club, Nanco had spent time in the system of MLS side Philadelphia Union, following a very strong NCAA career with Syracuse University. Nanco is a product of the Sigma FC academy, like many of his Forge teammates.

The 30-year-old Welshman brings a wealth of experience to the table for Bobby Smyrniotis’ side, having played at a variety of different levels including MLS and USL. He first signed with Forge in 2019 on loan from FC Cincinnati, but departed the club mid-season to join Hapoel Haifa of the Israeli Premier League. He returned to Hamilton in mid-2021, rejoining the Hammers for their deep runs in the Concacaf League, Canadian Championship, and CPL Playoffs.

Welshman, who was born in Mississauga but represents Guyana internationally, has 30 lifetime appearances for Forge, with four goals scored. He played 17 times for Forge in 2021 after signing in September.

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Pacius was a revelation for Forge in 2021, signing with the club in August and going on to score eight goals in 27 appearances. His seven goals in CPL play were tied for the team lead, and joint-eighth in the entire league. The 20-year-old native of Terrebonne, Quebec, made his professional debut this past summer with Forge, after spending several years in the youth academy of MLS side CF Montreal.

The young centre-forward scored some important goals for Forge in 2021, perhaps most notably the first in their 3-1 CPL semi-final win over York.

Finally, Browne returns to Forge on loan after a strong half season for the club in 2021. He finally made his debut for Hamilton in late September after travel and visa issues prevented him from suiting up earlier in the season, and he went on to provide three goals and three assists in 15 games. Browne, a 27-year-old from Panama City, scored one of the goals of the season for Forge in Leg 2 of their Concacaf League tie against Santos de Guápiles, helping them secure qualification to the Concacaf Champions League.

Browne has previously caught the eye of various teams across North America, particularly after impressing with Independiente in his native Panama. In 2019 he played 11 games on loan for Montreal Impact (now CF Montreal), scoring three goals. Browne lined up in a number of attacking positions for Forge this past year, slotting in anywhere from centre-forward to right wingback.

With these four players re-signed, Forge now have eight players officially returning for 2022 as this group of attackers joins fellow returnees Dominic Samuel and Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson, as well as incoming new faces Terran Campbell and Alessandro Hojabrpour, both of whom recently signed for the club from fellow CPL outfit Pacific FC.

Forge will be the first CPL side to return to the pitch, with their round of 16 Concacaf Champions League tie against Liga MX giants Cruz Azul set to kick off in mid-February. They will first host the Mexican side at Tim Hortons Field on February 16, and then travel to Estadio Azteca in Mexico City for Leg 2 on February 24.