PREVIEW: Forge FC vs. Cavalry FC — 2024 Match #2
Canadian Premier League

2024 CPL Regular Season — Match #2
Forge FC vs. Cavalry FC
April 13, 2024 at 4 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. MT
Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.

Hamilton has been a city of beginning and ends of late for defending Canadian Premier League regular season winners Cavalry FC.

This is the second consecutive season they have kicked off at Tim Hortons Field, where they began an incredible 2023 regular season with a 2-2 draw. That was the first of a league-leading 55 points they collected in 2023, 13 more than any other club, while also leading the league in goals scored (46) and fewest conceded (27).

Their past two seasons, however, also ended in heartbreaking fashion in Hamilton. In October 2023, after Ali Musse looked to have won the Calgary side its first CPL Final with a stunning strike in extra time, Forge quickly equalized through a world-class strike from Béni Badibanga before the moment now immortalized in CPL history. Tristan Borges, the Olimpico, in extra time. Forge won 2-1, lifted the North Star Cup, and Cavalry came up short in the playoffs once again.

2024 CPL SEASON PREVIEW: All you need to know about the 2024 Canadian Premier League season

While memories of that night will still live large in the minds of both teams, Saturday’s 2024 season opener brings with it a clean slate. It will be billed as a rematch of the 2023 CPL Final, but Cavalry aren’t focused on healing past wounds on Saturday, instead looking to start their new campaign in a winning manner.

“I don’t think you can, you have to wait for another final at that place,” said Cavalry’s Tommy Wheeldon Jr. “I think what you’ve got to do is a league game and a final are totally different situations, especially the first game of the season and the last game. If anything it reminds me a little bit of the Charity Shield game in England where the league winner plays the FA Cup winner. So our version of that is you are bringing together two champions to open up the season. No ghosts to be buried here.”

As a result of their triumphant 2023 campaigns, both clubs had a shorter off-season than the others around the league, competing in the Concacaf Champions Cup in February. Forge were defeated 5-2 on aggregate by Liga MX giants C.D. Guadalajara, while Cavalry fell 6-1 over two matches against MLS’s Orlando City. Both sides will take plenty out of those experiences.

For Forge, improving their home record in 2024 will be a clear goal. Only last-place Valour had fewer wins at home than Forge’s four in 2023 — and they collected just 19 points at Tim Hortons Field, the fewest in club history.

A big reason for that was Forge’s struggles to open the scoring at home, doing so just three times during the 2023 season. They did gain a stunning 13 points in 14 matches from losing positions at Tim Hortons Field — more than any other club managed across a full 28-game season in 2023. But for a club that prides itself on controlling matches, it was far from their usual standard.

“Historically, we’ve been a lot better, we’ve made this place a little bit of a fortress,” said Forge FC captain Kyle Bekker. “I think we let our fans down a little bit last year in how we performed here in front of them.”

RELATED: 2024 Season Preview: Forge FC || 6 questions ahead of Forge FC’s 2024 season

Cavalry’s ability to open the scoring in matches, meanwhile, was a big reason they cruised to the CPL Shield this past season. They scored the first goal of the match in a stunning 22 of their 28 CPL regular season contests in 2023.

Hamilton, however, hasn’t been particularly kind to Cavalry FC of late either. Their loss in the 2023 CPL Final made it six straight winless matches at Tim Hortons Field. They have not won at the stadium since a 1-0 victory on the final day of the 2021 campaign.

RELATED: 2024 Season Preview: Cavalry FC || 6 questions ahead of Cavalry FC’s 2024 season

Matchups between the two sides have always been incredibly well-contested. The 2023 Final was the 24th of 26 all-time meetings between the two sides that ended in either a draw, or in this case was decided by a single goal.

The clash is also just the latest between the only two CPL head coaches still in place from the league’s inaugural season, Wheeldon Jr. and Forge’s Bobby Smyrniotis. Cavalry announced on Thursday a three-year extension for Wheeldon Jr., who won the CPL’s Coach of the Year award last season, and has the best regular season record of any coach in league history.

Both clubs will open the season with a few notable absences. Forge’s Nana Opoku Ampomah and Elimane Cissé are not yet available due to work visa issues but will join the club soon. Garven Metusala, meanwhile, will miss Saturday’s match through an injury picked up on international duty with Haiti. Triston Henry remains absent for personal reasons as Forge look to help him find a new club for 2024.

Cavalry’s Myer Bevan meanwhile, the league’s 2023 Golden Boot winner, has been placed on the inactive roster for personal reasons to start the 2024 season. The only other player who is unavailable for Saturday’s match is Maël Henry, who is out with a hamstring injury.

The 2023 CPL Final between Forge FC and Cavalry FC (Photo: David Chant / CPL)

All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSoccer, FuboTV, or on TELUS Optik TV Channel 980.


  • New season brings different goals for Cavalry, Forge: At this point in their incredibly successful histories, silverware is on the mind every time Forge FC and Cavalry kick off a campaign. However, the trophy both clubs will be dreaming of might differ in 2024. After another loss in the CPL Final, the North Star Cup as playoff champions has to be the central target for Cavalry this season. Forge, meanwhile, will be looking to find more consistency during the regular season. They have also made it clear that the Canadian Championship is a key priority as well. Wheeldon Jr. made the fair point in his pre-match press availability that to get into the postseason at all you have to focus on having a good regular season, especially with how tight the CPL can be. The club’s ultimate goal is returning to the Concacaf Champions Cup, something that repeating as regular season winners would accomplish. But at the end of the day, how Cavalry performs in knockout fixtures will determine how their 2024 campaign is judged.


  • Can new Forge backline find consistency in 2024?: Another aspect of their game Forge will look to improve this season will be on the defensive side of the ball. When Forge were dialed in defensively this past season they were excellent, with the second-best expected goals-against record in the league (29.84) and the most clean sheets kept in the league with 10. However, the 32 goals they ultimately conceded were the most in club history. The backline has also been a big area of turnover for Forge this off-season, with Defender of the Year nominee Manjrekar James, and mainstay Rezart Rama, departing the club. The experienced Daniel Parra has come in on loan from Liga MX side CF Monterrey to fill at left fullback, while most of the other open positions are expected to be inherited by Forge’s quality cast of young defenders already on the roster. An even bigger change will be in net, as the club’s day one goalkeeper, Triston Henry, is unlikely to be back for 2024. Whoever is starting, Forge will be looking to find ways to concede less this season.


  • Without Bevan, who becomes the focal point of Cavalry’s attack?: A big reason Cavalry led the league in goals scored last season was down to the fact that they had a prolific point man in Myer Bevan. The New Zealander tied for the Golden Boot with 11 goals, but won’t be available to start the season for the Cavs. How the team replaces him in the lineup is a big question going into the opening weekend, and beyond. There are options, Tobias Warschewski and Malcolm Shaw have both proven that they can score plenty of goals in the Canadian Premier League before. William Akio, meanwhile, has played as a nine before as well and could be an option at that position this season. But what is certain is that if Bevan is unavailable, Cavalry will need someone to step up and match his production if they are going to reach similar heights in 2024.


Forge FC (4-3-3): Kalongo; Duncan, Achinioti-Jönsson, Owolabi-Belewu, Parra; Hojabrpour, Bekker, Jensen; Choinière, Badibanga, Campbell

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1) : Carducci; Shome, Kobza, Klomp, Kamdem; Gutiérrez, Trafford; Musse, Camargo, Akio; Warschewski


Forge FC wins: 12 || Cavalry FC wins: 7 || Draws: 7

Last meeting:

Oct. 28, 2023 — Forge FC 2-1 Cavalry FC (a.e.t) — 2023 CPL Final


“This is an exciting group. It’s an exciting group with a mix of veterans and young players and just looking forward to it. What are the goals? The goals are always a Championship at this club.” — Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis

“I don’t think it’s enough to just get in the playoffs and rely on what we’ve done before. Last year, we were definitely frustrated at times. I think maybe we put the cart before the horse and were looking back to the things we accomplished in the past versus what we were doing week in and week out. The big thing there is consistency, I think we really are our own worst enemy at times. I think when we’re playing to the best of our ability, we’re the best team in the league. We’ve showed that time and time again.” — Forge FC captain Kyle Bekker

“I think something we have shown as a group is you are always evolving, and I think you have to in football. Because as soon as you try something and have success with it, others work on ways to try to prevent it. So then you have to have another way of moving forward.” — Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.