Tristan Borges returns to Forge FC on loan from OH Leuven for 2021 season

He’s back.

Tristan Borges, the CPL’s Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner in 2019, will be back with Forge FC for the 2021 season, returning to the club on loan from top-flight Belgian side Oud-Heverlee Leuven.

The former league MVP said he kept close tabs on Forge in 2020 while he was in Belgium, and believes he’ll be able to make a smooth transition back into the CPL upon his return to Hamilton.

“It’s going to be an any easy fit, just having the relationship that I have with the guys. It’s going to be an easy transition, I think; just getting back on the ball with them, and getting some games in and getting back in the grove going off the year they had last year,” Borges told the Forge FC website.

“At the end of the day the main goal always is just to win, just to get another championship. Everybody here knows my mentality on how it is; it’s always just to win. That’s the number one thing I care about. I know that’s how they are, obviously being back-to-back champions. We’re going for it again.”

Borges, a 22-year-old native of Toronto, first signed for OH Leuven in January 2020 after a stunning breakout season with Forge in the CPL’s inaugural year. He played 33 games for Forge in 2019, scoring 13 goals to lead the league in scoring and adding five assists.

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His’ long-range goal in Leg 1 of Finals 2019 at Tim Hortons Field against Cavalry FC was ultimately the championship-winning marker, en route to a 2-0 aggregate win for the Hamilton-based club.

After leading Forge to their first of two consecutive league championships, Borges was named the CPL’s first ever Player of the Year, simultaneously picking up the Golden Boot and U-21 Player of the Year awards in late 2019. Borges remains the CPL’s joint-highest scorer on the all-time leaderboard with his 13 goals, now alongside Akeem Garcia and Easton Ongaro.

Borges went on to appear four times for OH Leuven in 2020 as the club secures promotion to Belgium’s top division. Now, he’ll return to Forge on loan in order to continue his development with regular playing time.

“We’re very happy to welcome Tristan back to our club,” Forge FC Director of Football Costa Smyrniotis said in a statement. “The cooperation with OH Leuven has been very good here, with the common, important goal of furthering the competitive development of Tristan over this upcoming year.”

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Before signing with Forge in 2019, Borges played briefly under coach Bobby Smyrniotis in League1 Ontario at Sigma FC. Prior to that, he spent just under three years in the Netherlands, playing in the youth academy of Eredivisie side SC Heerenveen.

Borges also has some experience with the Canadian national team program, having earned his first senior cap last January in a friendly against Barbados. He previously represented Canada at the U-17 and U-20 levels as well.

During his first year with Forge, Borges was deployed at a variety of positions across the attack, although he played most frequently on the wing.

For the 2021 CPL season, he joins an attacking group that currently includes Mo Babouli and Chris Nanco, and it’s likely that Borges will be one of the main focuses of Forge’s game.

With this major addition, Forge now has 16 players confirmed for their 2021 roster, with Borges being the first signing not from the 2020 squad. They’ll be joined in training camp by CPL-U SPORTS Draft picks Garven-Michée Metusala and José da Cunha.