Looking back on Forge FC’s inaugural Concacaf League campaign

Forge FC entered the unknown last summer when they travelled to Central America as the Canadian Premier League’s first representative in international competition.

Forge competed in the 2o19 Concacaf League, the qualifying tournament for the bigger Concacaf Champions League, by finishing above FC Edmonton and Valour FC in the first half of the 2019 CPL season.

This year, the Concacaf League will be familiar territory for the CPL Champions, who return to international competition when they face Club Deportivo Municipal Limeño of El Salvador on Thursday (8:00 p.m. ET/TSN3) in the preliminary round of the competition.

Here’s a look back at Forge’s run on the 2o19 Concacaf League.

BROADCAST ALERT: Forge FC vs. Municipal Limeño, Thursday Oct. 22 at 8pm ET on TSN3

Successful first CONCACAF foray

First up for Forge was Antigua GFC in the preliminary round. Coach Bobby Smyrniotis welcomed the Guatemalan side to Tim Hortons Field to answer one of the CPL’s greatest unknowns: How do we stack up?

Forge held it own in a cagey affair, eventually earning a 2-1 win in one of their most exciting matches in club history.

David Choinière’s injury-time winner marked the club’s biggest moment up to that point and, perhaps most important, showed CPL clubs were more than capable in competing with Central American sides.

A listless and scoreless second leg in Guatemala sealed the tie for a Hamilton side destined for a much tougher task.

Bizarre back-and-forth Olimpia tie

Honduran giants Olimpia waltzed into Tim Hortons Field for the round of 16 to a much different tune than Antigua. Former Concacaf League winners – and Champions League runners-up – Olimpia was a formidable opponent, though they were shorthanded.

Paperwork issues and a Honduran under-23 training camp sent a reduced 17-player team to the Steel City, leaving Forge with a chance to capitalize.

Chris Nanco’s inauspicious opener for Forge put the Hondurans on the back foot. Several Forge chances, including a ping off the post by captain Kyle Bekker, put the hometown crowd on their feet.

Perhaps the best moment of the match and Forge’s entire Concacaf League campaign came when goalkeeper Triston Henry denied Olimpia’s Ever Alvarado from the penalty spot.

Forge took the first leg 1-0 to set up a behind-closed-doors second leg to remember in San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ national stadium and home to one of Canadian soccer’s greatest defeats.

Forge battled a bout of food poisoning in Honduras, and, facing a now-full-strength Olimpia, succumbed via a 4-1 defeat in San Pedro Sula.

Olimpia went on to the Concacaf League semifinals and, thus qualifying for for Concacaf Champions League. Olimpia flexed their muscles in the Champions League, beating MLS side Seattle Sounders in the round of 16, and going up 2-1 on Montreal Impact in the first leg of the quarter-finals before the tournament was shut down due to COVID-19 concerns.

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