2021 CPL regular season — Match #89
Valour FC vs. Forge FC
October 11, 2021 at 3:00 pm ET/2:00 pm CT
IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca // Tickets available here
The second match in the CPL’s Thanksgiving Monday matinee takes us back to Winnipeg, where a surging Forge FC will visit Valour FC as they continue their chase for top spot in the league table.
Bobby Smyrniotis’ side enter Monday in second place in the league (though they’re level with third-place Cavalry FC with 37 points). They’re hoping to put pressure on league leaders Pacific FC, who sit just two points in front with 39. They enter this game in very good form, having won their last three consecutive league matches (the last two on the road) — not to mention their major triumph down in Panama in the Concacaf League recently. Since leaving the Winnipeg bubble that started this season, Forge are 8-1-3, having recovered very strongly since going 4-4 at The Kickoff.
“We would obviously like to finish in one of the top two spots so we can get that home game in the playoffs,” Forge attacker Chris Nanco said on Sunday. “It just makes it easier on us, with other competitions as well. Anytime we can play at home it just makes it easier, and you obviously want to play in front of your fans as well.”
Unfortunately for the Hammers, they’ll be without a couple of key pieces for this contest in Winnipeg, with Mo Babouli and Jonathan Grant both set to miss out after picking up their fourth yellow cards of the season on Wednesday in Forge’s 1-0 win over HFX Wanderers. They have some players starting to work their way back to fitness, though, with Maxim Tissot back in full training and Nanco perhaps able to start.
Meanwhile, Valour continue to search for three points, having not won in their last eight games (their most recent victory coming August 24 against FC Edmonton). Sitting sixth in the league, they’re still alive in the playoff hunt with 25 points. Thanks to York United’s draw with Atlético Ottawa on Friday night, Valour remain six points back of the Nine Stripes for that fourth position.
Valour have managed a point in two straight games — results at home against FC Edmonton and Cavalry FC, successively — but they’re still looking for their first win of the Phillip Dos Santos era, he having taken over the side from Rob Gale on September 23.
These clubs met twice in the bubble, playing out some surprising results. Valour won both games, 2-0 and 1-0, playing a major role in Forge’s early-season struggles. Their 2-0 win — both sides’ first game of the season — came on the back of a Moses Dyer penalty and an excellent finish from Austin Ricci (who scored the lone goal in the other meeting as well).
“In the first five games we played Valour twice, and I said back then it would probably take us four games to get our groove, not having training or enough time on the field. Doesn’t matter who you are, Forge or Real Madrid; if you don’t train in the preseason, it’s not going to be the best when you start.
Three points would be massively helpful to both sides here; will Valour continue their dominance over the champions, or can Forge continue their march to first place?
Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 CPL Final!
All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.
3 THINGS TO WATCH:
- Monday game provides extra rest for fatigued sides: With this game coming on Thanksgiving Monday rather than Saturday or Sunday, these two teams have had an extra couple of days to rest and recover after their midweek fixtures. Valour last played on Tuesday, so they’ve been off nearly a week — which should be a massive help to them after they played the first four games under Dos Santos in just 10 days. However, Dos Santos has indicated he thinks it’s been useful to him to be forced to adapt so quickly and hit the ground running. “I really think that I benefited from it,” he said on Tuesday. “I think that it’s not the ideal scenario, but for me coming into the club at this time I was able to see guys compete and how they grew in such a limited amount of time where we didn’t train much. A lot of recovery, a few training sessions, a lot of video, a lot of feedback. Hard for the guys, but beneficial for me… I think that everyone is at a point where they deserve the extra few days before we go at it again on Monday.” Either way, expect a little more energy on Monday as the teams recover a little of their fitness.
- Forge starting to integrate new attackers: The midseason reinforcements Forge have added — the likes of Emery Welshman, Omar Browne, and even Woobens Pacius — are now starting to settle into their new club. Pacius, of course, has already integrated fully with the team, with six goals in 13 appearances. Welshman and Browne joined more recently, though; the former has now got two starts under his belt, and Browne made his first start for Forge last week in Halifax. Both are accomplished goalscoring threats, and if they can find a good attacking rhythm in this homestretch of the season Forge will have a very good shot at securing first place. On Browne in particular, Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis said: “He’s coming off a period of inactivity; he was training in Panama while he was down there and before that just coming off a minor surgery. We’re very happy, we want to bring him into the team in the right moments… He’s quick, he understands what we’re doing, he enjoys the process of what we’re doing, being a team that wants to be in control and be on the ball. I think that allows for players like him, especially in the final third of the field, to showcase his attacking skills.”
- How to get the best out of Galhardo? Perhaps the Valour player with the best pedigree, Brazilian midfielder Rafael Galhardo has had some up-and-down moments in his first year in the CPL. Certainly, one of the keys to short-term success for Valour would be finding the best way to deploy him in the side, and to maximize his value. Galhardo has excellent vision and good technical ability, and he’s a fantastic deliverer of set-piece balls, all of which were on display in Tuesday’s game against Cavalry. Coach Phillip Dos Santos doesn’t often like to discuss individual players, but he made an exception on Tuesday night to give some intriguing thoughts on Galhardo: “I have a lot of respect for Rafa, a lot of respect for where he played; it’s not easy to have a career like the one he had. But I told him this week that what he did in the past won’t help us today, and he’s going to be evaluated for what he does today for this club. I gave him a clear example of when I was assistant coach in San Francisco, we had a player who had a similar pedigree from Brazil that I won’t mention the name, and he had played and was one of the players with more titles in Serie A in Brasileirão, and we had another guy — and that guy was Kyle Bekker, and he played ahead of him because Kyle did what he needed to do for us and he helped the team with and without the ball. For Rafa, it’s going to be that. he has more football than anyone else in this room, in this building, but he has to do the little things that we ask.”
Forge FC wins: 5 || Valour FC wins: 2 || Draws: 3
July 11, 2021 — Valour FC 1-0 Forge FC
“They’re doing a good job on the defensive end of things, and they’re a compact team, but I think that’s what they were also a little bit earlier in the year… What we’ve seen in the last few games is they’ve had good results, close results against some quality teams and we expect the same thing.” — Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis
“It’s about growing and not forgetting that these are very important elements, not only today or the last game but every game. We’ll survive, the ones who are able to bring that type of mentality back to back.” — Valour FC head coach Phillip Dos Santos