PREVIEW: York United vs. Forge FC — 2022 Match #52

2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #52
 York United vs. Forge FC
July 8, 2022 at 7:30 p.m ET
York Lions Stadium in Toronto, ON
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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May 6, the last time these two sides met, was likely the high point of York United’s difficult CPL season so far. At home, in front of a great crowd at York Lions Stadium, the hosts put in their best performance of the season en route to a 1-0 win over Forge.

They followed that up four days later with a dramatic penalty shootout win in the Canadian Championship against Atlético Ottawa and things looked to be going quite well for the Nine Stripes. Then the injuries started, as did the suspensions, and all of a sudden a York team that sat in second place after that win against Forge, is just a point above last place two months later.

They haven’t won since that last match against Forge, and have scored just once in that time. Going into this match they have conceded a season-high three goals in each of their last two matches. But Friday is a 905 Derby, and no matter where either club is in the table, they always tend to raise their level.

“The thing we know is that when Forge and York play it is always an excellent match,” said Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis. “There’s always good entertaining football happening on the field, we always try to bring our brand to the match and I think that’s what will make things interesting tomorrow.”

York is coming off their worst loss of the season, 3-0 on the road to FC Edmonton, in a performance that head coach Martin Nash called a “poor, poor effort”. But regardless of their form lately, Forge is expecting York at their best.

“It hasn’t been the case when they play us, they have come out and they play some good football,” said Bobby Smyrniotis, mentioning that they have a number of solid vertical attacking options, with more players returning to fitness and availability. “They are a little bit of a different team than they have been in the past few games, and for them, it is an important match.”

Lowell Wright is back from international duty, Max Ferrari has looked solid since returning from injury, and Nash will have a number of new weapons at his disposal now that the international transfer window is open.

Importantly, also available is Niko Giantsopoulos, who missed this past weekend’s match against FC Edmonton. York was forced to make a pair of emergency goalkeeper signings for the match, and Gianluca Catalano made his CPL debut. He did well, saving a penalty, but without a leader like Giantsopoulos at the back, York delivered its worst performance of the season.

Forge, for their part, are coming off back-to-back losses for the first time this season, both of which were at home. While they remain one of the best clubs in the league in terms of points per game, they know a loss on Friday could see them dip back below the playoff line.

While York has received plenty of plaudits for their defensive efforts this season, it is Forge who has been the gold standard in this category of late. Since getting a few of their key defensive players back, Forge has conceded just twice in their last four matches. They now have the fewest goals conceded in the league this year, with 11, and there is more good news on the horizon as Dom Samuel has returned to training and should be back with the group soon.

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  • York United getting some much-needed reinforcements: At long last, York coach Martin Nash and his staff can look past their starting 11 when selecting a roster for Friday’s game. With the transfer window opening, the club gets some much-needed reinforcement. That includes 18-year-old forward Ronan Kratt, Australian defender Tass Mourdoukoutas and recent signing Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio. All of them have been training with the club and will be available to Nash, giving him some much-needed squad depth, and potentially some of his young players some rest.  “They’ve all done really well,” said Nash of his recent signings. “It is great to have options now, guys that need a rest can take a bit of a rest and even a chance to freshen the lineup a bit. Also being able to bring some impact players off the bench which we haven’t been able to do for some time now.”
  • Forge gets a third opportunity to pick apart the block: For the first time since the final two matches of the 2021 season, Forge has been held scoreless in back-to-back matches. In fact, in a 1-0 loss to Atlético Ottawa on Sunday, they were unable to manage a shot on target. At their best, York is another side who are nearly impenetrable when they set up in their low block, and Forge is expecting their opponents to be at their best on Friday. “The one thing we know and we see week after week is that teams bring their best when they are playing against Forge,” said Smyrniotis. “It is something that we have to be prepared for, it is something that we know going into each and every match”. There is no reason to sound alarm bells about the Forge offence, which still leads the league in both expected goals and big chances, and has the second-most goals for in 2022. But this will be another chance to play against a solid defensive team, and Forge will be hoping the third time is the charm. “We have to be quicker, that is what it has to be,” Smyrniotis said of what his team needs to do against defensively solid sides. “We are facing teams that are playing in the lower block a lot more than previous years, and I think we are seeing that across the league this year. There might be a bigger focus on teams trying to get the three points, and many times it is easier to do it that way than to be intricate and play a lot of football.”
  • York with a chance to test themselves against the league’s best: When a team has gone two months without a win, it probably isn’t the most ideal to look at the schedule and see that their next four matches come against the top four teams in the league. But that is the situation that York finds itself in over the next few weeks. The good news, is that three of those four matches come at home, and after a hectic travel schedule of late the group will finally get some time to put together proper training weeks. The team has also stepped up to their opposition’s level this year, in fact, some of their best matches have come against the most difficult opposition. “Beating Forge and Cavalry early in the season we did step up to two of the best teams in the league, we have that ability, we know we have that ability,” said Nash.


York United wins: 5 || Forge wins: 8 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

May 6, 2022 — York United FC 1-0 Forge FC


“Obviously they are a very good team and we are going to have to be organized, we are going to have to press well. I think a big part of our game will have to be in transition, how quickly we can recover the ball.” — York United head coach Martin Nash

“York is a resilient team. We can talk about the goals that they haven’t scored, but you also have to talk about the goals that they don’t allow. They are a very well-organized team, very robust in the way that they defend and they counter very well.” — Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis