HAMILTON — When Forge FC’s Emery Welshman heard “loan,” he knew there was only one place he wanted to go.
“Here in Hamilton, with Forge FC,” Welshman told CanPL.ca after arriving from MLS expansion side Cincinnati FC this week.
Welshman arrives, task well- known, with pressure to produce in the attacking third. In other words, he’s here to do one thing: put the ball in the net.
After a 2018 campaign which saw Welshman score the fifth-most goals (4) on Cincinnati, including his first professional hat-trick during a US Open Cup fixture, the former Toronto FC draft pick’s expectation was to exceed that output in Ohio entering this year.
But that chance didn’t come.
“Different circumstances have brought me back here,” Welshman continued. “Of course, I would have loved to stay in MLS with my club but certain situations have brought me home.”
That situation, he said, was a lingering hamstring injury that forced him out of MLS pre-season.
“The injury was worse than expected and I was out two months including missing the whole pre-season,” he explained.
Due to the injury, and the fact Cincinnati FC needed a roster spot, it led to the club bringing up a potential loan.
The 27-year-old reiterated: “The only place I would agree to go to was Forge.”
CONNECTIONS BACK HOME
After all, Welshman has connections here in the GTHA. And he liked what’s happening in the Steel City, his new home, just a half-hour away from his hometown of Mississauga, Ont..
“At this stage of my career and my life, with the young family I have, I wasn’t going to be bouncing back-and-forth from place-to-place,” Emery said.
Here, Welshman added, he’s reunited with coach Bobby Smyrnioyis and some of the players he grew up training with.
“I’m just excited to be around a lot of familiar faces,” Welshman added. “I played with a handful of these guys for a lot of years, so I’m looking forward to just getting back into the swing of things.”
With that comfortability, Welshman already knows what to expect this season.
“The quality is high. A lot of young, hungry players, it’s exciting,” he said, commenting that Canadian soccer is in a good place compared to when he was drafted into MLS in 2013.
Forge FC’s coaching staff is already ecstatic to have a player of Welshman’s caliber on the roster.
“Emery is a player I know very well. He has all the qualities we look for in an attacker and player,” Smyrniotis said. “He brings a wealth of experience at the professional and national team level, including winning a league title last year with FC Cincinnati.”
As for assistant coach Peter Reynders, he is overjoyed to see Welshman back on the pitch too.
“Oh!” Reynders says swallowing in a laugh.
“Everyone is excited because everyone wants a striker like him,” Reynders said, grinning. “He will make the team better, himself better and we’re just glad to have him on our side.”
However, Welshman’s time with Forge FC will take a short hiatus.
The Guyana national team member is departing Monday for international training camp prior to a crucial CONCACAF Nations League qualifier against Belize. A win could see Guyana into the this summer’s Gold Cup and, potentially, Nations League Group A.
“We need a win which should guarantee qualification for the Gold Cup. It would be the first time in Guyana’s history, it’s certainly a big moment for the country and soccer in that area.” Welshman said. “I’m just excited to hopefully help my country compete and win.”
And so, Welshman joins York9 FC’s Ryan Telfer as players who have been loaned from MLS squads to the CPL.
Some players view these things as a step back.
He’s on the cusp of featuring prominently in a new league whilst propelling Guyana somewhere it’s never been.