Last weekend’s slate of action finally answered the question as to what the matchup would be for the 2019 Canadian Premier League Finals.
Forge FC officially booked its place in the league’s championship series by virtue of its 3-0 home win over Pacific FC, combined with York9 FC only managing a 1-1 draw against Cavalry FC. Those pair of results confirmed that Forge would meet Spring winners Cavalry in the Finals 2019. The only thing left to settle was the location of both matches, but now we know that, too.
The league officially confirmed this week that the first leg of Finals 2019 will take place on Oct. 26 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, with the decisive second leg slated for Nov. 2 at ATCO Field at Spruce Meadows in Calgary.
“I can’t believe we are already discussing our inaugural Finals. It seems like yesterday we hosted our historic first-match,” said Canadian Premier League Commissioner, David Clanachan. “This is another major moment for the Canadian Premier League, the Clubs and everyone involved. Having a club from the east and west of Canada is fitting for the Canadian Premier League Finals, giving fans a true coast-to-coast experience in year one.”
Cavalry won the Spring season with 24 points, just ahead of second-place Forge (19 points). With five matches remaining in the Fall campaign, Forge and Cavalry are separated by only two points, and are guaranteed to finish first and second again.
“Even though the winner of the Fall season should choose their home match according to CPL rules, and that winner hasn’t been decided as of yet, the League office and the two clubs agreed on the match dates because of a scheduling conflict that exists with the Hamilton Tiger Cats, the primary tenant at Tim Hortons Field,” Clanachan explained.
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Forge and Cavalry aren’t exactly strangers, as they’ve already faced each other on five occasions this year.
“If you accumulate all the points over both seasons, we’re the two best teams in it. We’re looking forward to playing them. It’ll be a great double-header. We’ve already had that preview in the Canadian Championship where it was close and heated,” Cavalry coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said.
Forge has won two of three league games between the two finalists (with one loss), including a rare victory at Atco Field at Spruce Meadows after the Cavs opened the Spring season with seven consecutive wins. Cavalry exacted a measure of revenge when they defeated Forge in the second round of the Canadian Champions en route to reaching the semifinals.
“We’ve played a number of times this year, and every game has been close, tight game. There’s been some very good football from both sides. They’ve beaten us at home, we’ve beat them at their place, so when you look at the series so far, it’s pretty even,” Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis stated.
Forge currently sits atop the Fall table with 28 points, just ahead of Cavalry (26 points), and they still have to play each other twice in the regular season – Oct. 9 at Atco Field at Spruce Meadows and a week later at Tim Hortons Field.
More than likely, those two contests will likely decide who wins the Fall title. And even though his side is already through to Finals 2019, Wheeldon insists his side isn’t going to take its foot off the pedal.
“We’ve talked all the time that we won the Spring. Would we ease off in the Fall? The answer is no. We want to win the Fall because then we are the undisputed (best team) in the regular season. And then the CPL championship becomes like a treble,” Wheeldon said.
“We want to win those two games because then that decides the fate (of the Fall) and then we’ll treat the CPL championship like a cup tie.”
Smyrniotis concurred with his counterpart.
“You have to keep your guys mentally sharp, and you have to go into this final stretch of games with a positive mindset. There’s danger is holding things back, so we’re going all out in these last five games, and then we when we get to the end of the season, we’ll have time to refocus on the final,” Smyrniotis said.
Smyrniotis isn’t put off by the prospect of playing the second leg in Calgary, as he’s confident his team can set themselves up for success with a strong showing at home in the opener.
“We play some very good football at home, and playing that first game at Tim Hortons Field, we obviously want to have a leg up going to Calgary and making sure that we have a positive result. We’ve shown the couple times we’ve gone there that we can score goals,” Smyrniotis explained.
Some of the league’s top stars will showcase their talents over the two legs of Finals 2019.
Cavalry’s Dominic Zator is considered one of the top defenders in the CPL, goalkeeper Marco Carducci was recently named to the Canadian national team, and the Cavs’ lively attack features midfield maestro Sergio Camargo and forward Dominique Malonga, who has a team-high seven goals.
Forge boasts Canadian veteran David Edgar as the start of its defence, an MVP candidate in midfielder Kyle Bekker, and forward Tristan Borges, who leads the CPL in scoring with 11 goals.
With this in mind, Forge vs. Cavalry in the Canadian Premier League Finals is the way it should be for this historic series that will crown the first Canadian Premier League Champion, as it’s a match-up between two evenly matched sides and will cap off what has been an ultra-competitive rivalry this season.