PREVIEW: Forge FC vs. Cavalry FC — Match #112
Canadian Premier League

2021 CPL regular season — Match #112
Forge FC vs. Cavalry FC
November 16, 2021 at 7 pm ET
Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton, Ont.
Watch Live: // Tickets available here

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Rather fittingly, the Canadian Premier League’s greatest competitive rivalry will close out the regular season Tuesday when Forge FC hosts Cavalry FC at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont.

It’s a final tune-up for the two postseason-bound sides looking to gain an edge going into the semi-finals on the weekend; the Cavs clash with Pacific FC on Saturday at ATCO Field (3pm ET/1pm MT) while Forge will host York United (3pm ET) on Sunday.

Forge returns to the Steel City after dropping a 1-0 result to Cavalry’s Albertan rivals FC Edmonton on Saturday. Easton Ongaro’s timely second-half goal sunk Bobby Smyrniotis’ side – though they’d already sealed first place and fielded a rotated side in a penultimate regular-season matchup.

“It’s a big game – every game we play against them you can see both teams come out with intensity,” Forge goalkeeper Baj Maan said before the match. “We can set the tone with the win and, who knows, they could come in with a lack of confidence going into a potential final.”

Cavalry, meanwhile, heads to Hamilton after a two-week rest – their last encounter being a 1-0 win over Pacific FC at ATCO Field. Joe Mason scored the goal in an eventual playoff preview, grabbing their third win in their last five and offering some retribution for a loss to Valour FC the previous game. The Cavs will travel to Hamilton late Monday.

“These are two big teams in the CPL – but we haven’t played them very often this season,” Wheeldon Jr. said, adding the Cavs had faced Forge the most of any CPL team before a recent run against Pacific. “We’re looking forward to renewing old rivalries… What we said all along is if we win [the CPL championship] we’ll have to go through Pacific and Forge at some point.”

Tuesday’s match, set to kickoff at 6pm ET, runs just before the Canadian men’s national team’s crucial 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying match with Mexico at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta (9pm ET/7pm MT).

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  • Teams afforded late-season breather: Forge and Cavalry, both playoff-bound teams, could face off against one another in the final if they both manage to win on the weekend. While both coaches admitted before the match that they have one eye to an important playoff tilts in just a few days’ time, Tuesday presents an exercise these teams haven’t been afforded in 2021: “We’ve played a lot of games this year and every one means so much – so you work on other things,” Forge coach Smyrniotis said. “You don’t look at the opponents in games like this – you look at what you want to execute.”
  • Forge, Cavalry to throw tactical surprises: Some Canadian soccer observers may see Tuesday as familiar… That’s because these two teams faced off in lame-duck matches at the end of the 2019 season as well. Those matches saw some off-the-wall tactical changes, including Elimane Cisse at center-forward in a 1-0 Forge win, and it looks like Forge, specifically, could be in the business of muddying the waters against their Albertan foe, just like against Edmonton: “We’ll see some different players doing some different stuff,” Smyrniotis said before the match. Cavalry will be approaching the match similarly, with Tommy Wheeldon Jr. adding: “I’ve got a lot of strategies on this greying head of mine… We’ve been known to rotate starting lineups and tactics already so that’s been part of our DNA – this game would have been no different.”
  • Cavalry looking to hit peak at right time: After months of injury crises, Cavalry has – justly – been afforded a relatively clean bill of health. Everyone is healthy and available for the Cavs save for Elliott Simmons, whose high ankle strain has ruled him up for the season, and Elijah Adekugbe, who returned from a season-long injury but his registration was nixed after a missed deadline. “Listen, we have a bunch of players that are chomping at the bit – we are a fully fit side,” Wheeldon Jr. said before addressing Oliver Minatel and Ali Musse, two attacking difference-makers that have seen limited minutes after extensive injury layoffs. “We know we need Oliver and Ali for the playoffs… In tight games you need the chance to change tempo, a different look so you can expect some minutes there for sure.”


Forge FC wins: 6 || Cavalry FC wins: 3 || Draws: 2

Previous match:

July 22, 2021 — Forge FC 1-2 Cavalry FC


“We’re flying under the radar – Pacific has done great because of their CanChamp run and the fact they were first for most of the season. Forge has performed in Concacaf League… They’ve shown why they are defending champions and, ultimately, we haven’t done those two things. What we have to do is save the best for last and, as we’ve learned the hard way, it’s not how you start the season it’s how you finish.” — Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

“It’s obviously been one heck of a year… I’m most proud of the players for keeping such a high level of concentration. We know we have another two, three weeks of games so let’s keep doing what we’re doing but put a bit extra into it and hopefully, it will work out in the end.” — Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis