Frustrating on many levels, Forge FC’s loss to Club Deportivo Marathón in Honduras was not how defender David Edgar wanted to leave the game as he entered retirement.
Tuesday’s Concacaf League play-in match was the Canadian international’s last game as a footballer, wrapping up a lengthy career as a professional in the sweltering Honduran heat. A win would have sent Forge into the 2021 Concacaf Champions League – a massive first for the Canadian Premier League that will sadly have to wait.
For Edgar, with 42 caps to his name, it’s an unceremonious, yet proud exit, as he leaves a group of teammates at Forge to deal with the same frustrations he faced so often with the national team – a string of chippy, seemingly unfair moments for Canadian sides that cost them results in continental competitions.
“We played football till the bitter end – played the game as I’d want it,” Edgar, with tears in his eyes, told media after the final whistle and tempers had died down.
Forge players were often found pestering referees for a lack of whistles and calls on Tuesday, even as Edwin Solano gave Marathón the lead after 18 minutes.
Proceedings simmered and later boiled over as Forge captain Kyle Bekker was sent off after a sliding studs-up tackle on Solano. Coach Bobby Smyrniotis was close behind after being given his marching orders for getting into it with the referee.
Those moments of frustration stood as a perfect distillation for a Forge FC side who saw a second opportunity to qualify for the 2021 Champions League slip through their fingers rather forcefully.
Edgar, meanwhile, was also swept up into this ill-tempered affair, earning a yellow card after Solano’s dive convinced the referee to give him a caution. Still, Edgar took the captain’s armband for the final moments – and even stepped up as a centre-forward, searching for a heroic ending to an illustrious career.
“I’m pretty emotional,” Edgar said. “I was excited all day. I got 90 minutes of football that honestly, I wasn’t expecting, I expected to win last week so I soaked in every minute.”
His pride for his teammates beamed through the post-match Zoom call with reporters back home in Canada. Most of Forge’s young contingent has played only a handful of games in Central America, with previous triumphs over Tauro FC and Club Deportivo Municipal Limeño during this Concacaf run included.
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“I’m extremely proud. You don’t come down to this part of the world and have that much of the ball,” Edgar stated. “It feels like [the opposition is cheating] at times.
“These boys have learned the lesson because nothing’s given to you down here. It went exactly as expected – no surprises. What can I say – so proud of the way the boys handled it, stuck up for themselves and got stuck in… and it was good old-fashioned ding-dong.”
Forge has one last shot to qualify for Concacaf Champions League, versus Toronto FC in the 2020 Canadian Championship final, set to played in the first quarter of 2021. Edgar won’t be with the side that day, hanging up the boots after one final Central American struggle under his belt.
In a way, Edgar’s departure from professional football and, specifically Forge FC, comes at the right time after imparting some wisdom to his Forge teammates in hopes of inspiring them to success during future road trips to Central America.
“Hopefully that’s what the CPL is about, in years to come teams can come down here and play teams off the park like we did and not get sucked up in that,” Edgar said.
“That’s the hope. That’s the dream.”