Forge’s fitness carries them to Concacaf League win: ‘We love being out here’

Another crucial game for Forge FC, another bout of late heroics.

When the dust fully settles on their 2-1 road win over Panama’s Tauro FC in the Concacaf League round of 16, it’ll be easier to fully appreciate how massive the result really was for the CPL Champs. For now, though, the drama of the game itself takes centre stage.

Daniel Krutzen’s 92nd-minute penalty was the latest in a slew of magical moments that have defined this club in its very brief history, as they continue to leap hurdle after hurdle.

In the immediate aftermath of the full-time whistle, coach Bobby Smyrniotis wasn’t yet able to fully describe the gravity of the situation, but the emotion in the Forge locker-room came through loud and clear.

“We love this sport,” he quipped. “We love being out here representing our club, and doing it in Concacaf. The respect we’ve gained in this region is tremendous over this last two years, the competitive nature of these games has been fantastic.”

The bout with Tauro certainly was competitive, as was the previous encounter with El Salvador’s Club Deportivo Municipal Limeño. Tuesday’s affair in Panama City saw much of the game played in transition, with players constantly having to shift from attack to defence as both sides constantly fought to win balls.

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Despite heat, humidity, and a rough pitch that had been torn apart in recent days by thunderstorms (although it looked much better this time than during the Concacaf League game it hosted last week), Forge managed to withstand a track meet of a game against a fast, skilled team.

“To be honest, it sometimes wasn’t our best week of training, just staying sharp,” Smyrniotis revealed. “The one thing I told the guys is we’re as fit as we’ve ever been. The one thing I have not worried about is these guys’ fitness.”

He continued to commend his players even further; as coach, Smyrniotis gets plenty of credit for masterfully planning for opponents, but he pointed out that the players still have to execute.

“Sometimes as a coach you can have this plan, you can have the guys prepared, but you need the players to believe in it,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing we have in this group: they believe in it.”

Now, it’s onward to… well, we don’t know where yet. For the first time ever, Forge will have to wait for the results of another game to find out who their next Concacaf League opponent is.

What we do know is they’ll be travelling either to Jamaica to play Waterhouse FC, or to Haiti for a clash with Arcahaie FC. Those two sides play on Thursday for the right to host Forge in the quarter-finals.

It won’t be lost on Forge that the quarter-final will also present an opportunity to qualify for the 2021 Concacaf Champions League — a win there (or, for that matter, in a consolation match against a fellow quarter-final loser) and they’d be in the continent’s premier club competition.

Until the path forward is a little clearer, though, Forge can savour a moment like this. They don’t come around very often.

“Today we played an excellent opponent in Tauro, this was an excellent team with a rich history in Concacaf, with a rich history in this competition,” Smyrniotis said.

“We’re happy to have gotten this win, and we hope we can keep on writing some of these magical moments — for our city, for our club, for our supporters.”

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