Forge FC attacker Woobens Pacius and David Choinière celebrate during their 2021 Canadian Championship quarterfinal at Tim Hortons Field. (Photo by Ryan McCullough/Forge FC) (Photo by Ryan McCullough/Forge FC)
Match Analysis: Forge FC 2-1 Valour FC
Marty Thompson, Digital Content Editor (@martythompson_)
First-half goals from David Choinière and Woobens Pacius ensured Forge FC the 2-1 win over Valour at Tim Hortons Field Wednesday and a ticket to the semi-final of the 2021 Canadian Championship. Hamilton took a 15-shot first half, slowly picking at Valour’s low block, into the break. A freak goal from Austin Ricci, in which he smashed the ball off ‘keeper Triston Henry’s foot and was eventually injured, was the visitor’s only quality chance on goal as they failed to capitalise on a second-half momentum swing. Forge advance to play the winner of HFX Wanderers & CF Montreal of MLS – a tie to be played out next Wednesday. Their semi-final tilt will come later this Fall. Winner of that tie will advance to the final – something no CanPL club has done thus far.
Choinière, Grant form “magic” right side
Hey, youth (or adult league) soccer fullbacks, wingbacks, and wingers – rewatch Wednesday’s match on OneSoccer if you want a masterclass in how to operate on the touchline.
Johnny Grant, playing as a pinning right wingback, was deployed alongside Choinière as the pair were tasked with finding space between Valour’s low block. Very rarely did the two step on each other’s toes – a symbiotic relationship crucial to the outcome as both goals came along Forge’s right flank.
Choinière, quick and nimble, was comfortable tucking inside in tight spaces while Grant, one of CanPL’s most athletic defenders, simply charged and charged – trying to find space along the touchline
Smyrniotis said the pair were “magic” in post-match media availability, mentioning specifically Grant’s ability to stretch Valour’s backline on overlaps.
Forge grabs big momentum win in second-of-third competition
Forge came off their 2-0 loss to 905 Derby rivals York United in the best way, taking Valour to task in a front-footed performance. The aforementioned opening goals from Choinière and Pacius were two of a staggering 15 shots in the first half – Bobby Smyrniotis’ side was back to their winning, confident ways.
Positionally, Forge was much sharper than their weekend defeat. Pacius, for just one example, offered some tantalizing movement between centrebacks, resting as a poacher with Kyle Bekker and Tristan Borges in sync behind. The backline, anchored by a mooring Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson, brought the ball through channels well in the first half and properly weathered the Valour storm in the second, bringing the team to the win column as the side prepares to face Panama’s Independiente in a Concacaf League Round of 16 match next Wednesday.
It was also Forge’s first win in the competition and set up sets up the aforementioned date with the winner of CF Montreal or HFX Wanderers FC next week.
Valour’s back-foot first half sets unfortunate tone
From a tactical perspective, Valour FC’s first half was the story of the match. The team sat back on Forge and struggled to create chances out of transition – speed was a big factor as advancing through their low block seemed a chore. It was a peculiar sight, considering the Winnipeg side was better rested than their Hamilton counterparts.
That didn’t seem to be the gameplan, according to coach Rob Gale after the match who called the first half needlessly “passive” and man of the match goalkeeper Matt Silva, who made a staggering 10 saves, agreed: “We gave them too much respect.”
That passiveness led to a 15-shot first half and a mountain to climb for the visitors who, it has to be said, failed to create a quality chance outside of Ricci’s fluke after the hour. Wednesday’s match was Valour’s fourth-straight loss and the attack certainly looked the part of their form table.
Second half the side looked much better as Gale changed shape and put attackers Ricci, Keven Aleman, and Rafael Galhardo in a cluster.
“We played between them, we defended higher up the field – that’s the blueprint for us going forward,” Gale said of the second frame.
No one can quite do it in knockout games like David Choinière. Forge’s Concacaf League wizard was immense on the right side, creating chances via brilliant buildup and connections with the likes of fullback Johnny Grant and midfielder Kyle Bekker. In classic Choinière fashion, the winger did all of the above at top speed, too, bringing the energy needed to break down Valour’s low block.
Forge turns their attention to Concacaf League and the first of two legs against Panama’s Independiente in Hamilton on Wednesday (8:00pm ET). Valour, meanwhile, pivots to league play as they host Cavalry FC at IG Field Saturday (4:00pm ET/3:00pm CT/2:00pm MT). Watch all matches live on OneSoccer.