Pacific FC vs. Forge FC – 2022 Game #99 (ComeOn! Game of the Week) – Canadian Premier League


2022 CPL Regular Season — Game #99
Pacific FC vs. Forge FC
September 18, 2022 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET
Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia
Watch live: OneSoccer.ca and TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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The race for the finish of the 2022 Canadian Premier League season continues on Sunday afternoon in a fascinating ComeOn! Match of the week between 2021 finalists Pacific FC and Forge FC.

The Tridents will host the Hamilton side for the first time since their season opener on April 10, this time with both teams desperate to score points at these very late stages of the campaign.

Pacific finds itself in a bit of a rut at the moment. It’s been a full month since they won a game, their last win coming on August 13 against Atlético Ottawa. Since then, they have lost three games and drawn, scoring just two goals in that span. With other teams in the league picking up points recently, the defending CPL champions are therefore outside the playoff table for now.

With five games remaining, Pacific entered the weekend fifth with 36 points, tied with fourth-placed Valor heading into the Winnipeg club’s game against Ottawa. James Merriman’s team will be eager to return to the playoffs after winning the title in 2021, but they know how tough it can be with two games to play against Forge and one against Cavalry.

“It’s really like playoff games, the last five games here,” Merriman said Friday. “Our group includes; the players know this and they are incredibly motivated. The intensity has been high all week in training and I’m confident they are fully prepared.

Forge, meanwhile, arrives on Vancouver Island hoping to build on last weekend’s 2-1 home win over Cavalry. They entered the weekend in second place with 39 points, two from the top and three from Pacific. Bobby Smyrniotis and company. have their sights set higher than just making the playoffs, though; they’re hoping to top the standings and be crowned regular season champions before also going for the championship in the playoffs – a double they have yet to pull off.

Like Pacific, Forge has five games left to play, with the next two on the road before ending the season with a three-game homestand. They returned to the win column last weekend to snap a five-game winless skid, which saw them fall twice in a row to Valor and also lose to Cavalry and York United. Goals from David Choinière and Aboubacar Sissoko helped them beat the Cavs at Tim Hortons Field last time out, and they hope to continue that momentum on the West Coast this week.

“As a coach you learn to live those moments,” Smyrniotis told reporters on Friday. “Those three and a half years, there’s probably about 25 games or so between playoff games, Concacaf games, Canadian Championship games that are basically win-win situations, so you learn to approach them, you try to get that experience from there.”

Both teams will be without key pieces for this game as Forge captain Kyle Bekker and Pacific defender Amer Didic are serving suspensions. Beyond those two, however, both parties claim to have good health. To forge finally recover defender Daniel Krutzen after his long-term ACL injury, most of their squad are therefore fit to play – Chris Nanco is still not quite ready, and Rezart Rama and Aboubcar Sissoko are day to day with shots picked up at the weekend. end last. The Pacific, meanwhile, have a full squad without any major injury issues. They will, however, remain without midfielder Manuel Aparicio, who recently learned that his red card suspension will in fact extend to this game.

The overall history between these two teams sways quite heavily in Forge’s favor – nine wins in 12 meetings – but recently, Pacific might have more to boast about. Of course, the Tridents beat Forge 1-0 in the CPL Final last December to dethrone the hosts and claim their first trophy, then they won again in this rematch to start 2022 in April. The only game between them since the start of the season, however, came at Tim Hortons Field in June, when Forge dominated en route to a 3-0 victory.

Games between these teams are usually entertaining with plenty of attacking football. As the stakes rise now that the season is coming to an end, expect another one-game cracker to close CPL Week 24.


Make your match choices before kick-off at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2022 CPL Final! To learn more about ComeOn!, Click here.

All CPL matches are available to stream on OneSocceror on TELUS Télé Optik channel 980.


3 THINGS TO WATCH

  • Bekker and Didic suspensions occupy an important place: Both teams will need to go into this game knowing that they will be without a key figure in the lineup. For Hamilton’s unit, captain Kyle Bekker will be out of the squad for three games after his red card against Cavalry and a gross misconduct ban. That leaves a huge hole in midfield for Forge, who have only played two games this year without Bekker in the starting XI. Both times Noah Jensen has filled in admirably in the middle, so he can be a candidate for more minutes in Bekker’s absence, but the burden will also fall on Alex Achinioti-Jönsson, Alessandro Hojabrpour and Aboubacar Sissoko to help make up for the toughness by Becker. work rate. “You have several options,” Bobby Smyrniotis said of Bekker’s replacement. “Noah Jensen has been great for us in a starting role…players like Tristan Borges can play that role and come inside, we have loads of options for the front line. [Bekker] is something we will miss but we will not waste too much time on it. Meanwhile, Pacific boss James Merriman has to set up his defense without Amer Didic for just the fifth time this year. The imposing central defender has started 19 of the Pacific CPL’s 23 games this year, but on Sunday it will be up to Thomas Meilleur-Giguère and Abdou Samake to hold the fort defensively against the league’s most scoring team.
  • Pacific Attack hopes to wake up at a key moment: There’s no denying that Pacific has struggled to get the ball in the net recently. Since the departure of star striker Alejandro Díaz, the Tridents have scored just three league goals, winning just one in five matches. Head Coach Merriman has tried different options to try to unleash his attack, but he’s still looking for the right combination to get the most out of some undeniably talented attacking players. Expect Josh Heard and Marco Bustos to patrol on the left and right wing respectively, but a few different players could take on the central role. Pacific have used both a 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 setup in recent weeks, so they could opt for a strike pairing in the middle of Jordan Brown and Djenairo Daniels. Gianni Dos Santos is another option, having come off the bench last week against Ottawa, although he is often better equipped on the outside. Regardless of how Merriman deploys his team, the pressure is on for Pacific, who knows he needs to perform better in the final third if he hopes to qualify for the playoffs.
  • Forge’s defense solidified after Krutzen’s return: The inclusion of Dutch defender Daniel Krutzen in last weekend’s starting line-up came as a pleasant surprise for Forge fans, who hadn’t seen the centre-back play since November 2021 when he got torn the anterior cruciate ligament. He fit right back into the team, allowing Alex Achinioti-Jönsson to play his natural midfield role. With Krutzen back, Forge’s defense – which had previously conceded the fewest goals in the league – looks even stronger, especially when it comes to moving the ball from behind. Krutzen is a first-class ball distributor who can spray a pass anywhere, which will come in handy on the tight Starlight Stadium pitch where there’s bound to be less space for build-up play. The question this week may be who plays around Krutzen in the roster; he shared centre-back duties with Garven Metusala last week, with Dom Samuel leaving to play at left-back. If Ashtone Morgan is in fine form, expect him to position himself on the left, with Samuel likely returning in the middle alongside Krutzen.

ALL TIME SERIES

Pacific wins: 2 || Forge wins: 9 || Draws: 1

Previous game:

June 12, 2022 — Forge 3-0 Pacific

KEY QUOTES

“We need three points, we need to win games and we need to play on the front foot. We have to play as we can and be at our best in these five matches. It starts with this one. — Pacific head coach James Merriman

“We know that if we can do business and win a few games, we have a good chance of finishing at the top. The most important thing is just three points on Sunday, and we will say the same on Monday after, regardless of the results. – Bobby Smyrniotis, Forge Head Coach

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