The CPL Champs made history in El Salvador, as their win marked the first by a CPL team on foreign soil. Now Forge looks to make history again by becoming the first CPL team to reach the final eight of the Concacaf League.
Tuesday’s match is a winner-take-all affair and will see one team advance to the quarter-finals, which will also be a one-legged affair.
While Forge last saw action against Municipal Limeño on Oct. 22, Tauro FC recently kicked off its domestic season and has played two games: a 1-1 draw with rivals C.D. Árabe Unido on Oct. 22, and a 2-2 draw vs. Alianza FC on Oct. 29.
The winner of Tuesday’s game advances to the quarter-finals where they will play either Waterhouse FC (Jamaica) or Arcahaie FC (Haiti).
Beyond that, it’s important to remember that qualification for the 2021 Concacaf Champions League is also at stake.
The winner of the Concacaf League, which features 22 teams from across North and Central America and the Caribbean, as well as the other three semi-finalists will qualify for next year’s Concacaf Champions League. Therefore, Forge would have a chance of advancing to the 2021 Champions League if they reach the quarter-finals of the Concacaf League.
If Forge makes it to the quarter-finals but loses, it would still have a shot at qualifying for the Champions League.
Concacaf announced last week a change to the format of the Concacaf League, and installed two “play-in” matches featuring the losers of the quarter-finals. The winners of those two matches, along with the four semi-finalists, will advance to the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.
Like the preliminary round and round of 16, the quarter-finals, semifinals and finals are a single leg, with the higher-ranked team hosting the game.
The danger man for Tauro FC: Veteran Panamanian striker Edwin Aguilar has had a number of stints with Tauro FC, and is one of the most beloved players in club history. Aguilar, 35, won the league scoring title three times (2007 Apertura, 2009 Apertura and 2016 Apertura), all as a member of Tauro. Thus far he’s accounted for all of Tauro’s goals in its first two games of the Panamanian season — a 1-1 draw with rivals CD Árabe Unido, and a 2-2 draw vs. Alianza FC.
Can Choinière come up big again: Forge forward David Choinière has a history of scoring in big games. The Quebec native has only scored six times in all competitions during his two seasons with Forge. But three of his goals have come in the Concacaf League dating back to last year (including the opener in Forge’s 2-1 win over Municipal Limeño), while another one was the winner over Cavalry FC in leg 2 of Finals 2019, allowing the Hamilton-based club to hoist the North Star Shield. Look for the two-time defending CPL Champions to try to get the ball as much as possible to Choinière on Tuesday night.
Forge injury report: Forge will be without defender Klaidi Cela for this game, as the defender suffered torn knee ligaments during August’s CPL season. Marcel Zajac (wrist) and fellow forward Gabriel Balbinotti (Achilles) are also ruled out. Forge defender Jonathan Grant is suspended after picking up a pair of yellow cards in the win over Municipal Limeño. The good news is that midfielder Kwame Awuah is available for selection after missing the Municipal Limeño match through suspension. Forward Chris Nanco, who sat out the game in El Salvador due to a hamstring injury, is fully fit and available for selection.
Tauro in Concacaf League: Unlike Municipal Limeño, who was making its debut into Concacaf competition this year, Tauro has quite a bit of international experience. This year marks their third consecutive participation in the Concacaf League, with their best showing coming in 2018 when they reached the final four, losing to Honduran side FC Motagua in the semi-finals. Last season, they fell to Salvadoran outfit Alianza FC in the round of 16. Tauro FC have also competed in the Concacaf Champions League, making six appearances in the region’s top club tournament between 2008 and 2018. Their best showing came in 2018, when they lost to Mexican giants Club América in the quarter-finals.
Forge’s continental experience: Forge competed in the 2019 Concacaf League, when it beat Guatemalan champions Antigua GFC in the preliminary round 2-1 on aggregate. Forge upset Honduran giants Olimpia 1-0 at Tim Hortons Field in the first leg of their round of 16 series, before dropping a 4-1 decision in the return match in San Pedro Sula. Many players from that Forge side are still with the team for this year’s run in the Concacaf League, including captain Kyle Bekker, starting goalkeeper Triston Henry, and veteran defender David Edgar.
“I think we’re expecting a game a bit more physical (from Tauro FC). I think they’re more athletic than (Municipal Limeño), a bit more technical. We’re expecting a tough opponent.” – Forge forward David Choinière
“This team is definitely a comfort zone for a lot of guys. We all get along so well together, we can all interchange and intermingle with no problems, you know? I think it’s one of the big keys to our success in general, is just the group that we have together.” – Forge forward Anthony Novak
“This is a game where we’ve really got to be dialled in for 90 minutes, because it’s a very good opponent. It’s not that it would be more physical as in a physical match, I think they’re a more dynamic team. They’ve got players with more pace on the field, more power, so that brings a little bit of a different dynamic. But at the same time we’ve done our job in scouting them, over this year and being able to see a little bit of their past as well.”– Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis