The game of musical playoff spots continues as Forge FC travels to Victoria for a pivotal match against Pacific FC on Sunday.
With five regular season matches remaining, Forge, with the highest points-per-match percentage in the Canadian Premier League, trails first-place Atletico Ottawa by two points, has one more than third-place Cavalry FC and leads fourth-place Valour FC by three. Forge also has a match in hand on the other three clubs holding a playoff spot.
Ultimately, Forge is in control of their playoff destiny. But if you ask head coach and technical director Bobby Smyrniotis, now is not the time to focus on anything other than Pacific.
“We can’t look at the long term of things… because that changes quickly,” Smyrniotis said during his pre-match media conference. “What’s most important is what’s at hand on Sunday. If you think beyond that, and you start doing math, it just blurs the brain for the coaches and players.”
“We know that if we take care of business and win some games, we have a good chance to finish at the top.”
Pacific, meanwhile, are in a points deadlock with Valour and have played one less match. So all PFC needs is one point this weekend to move into fourth.
Easier said than done for a Pacific side that has gone winless in their last four matches and earned a single draw.
The club has felt the effects of losing Alejandro Diaz. The 26-year-old Mexican was sold to Norwegian club Sogndal FC more than a month ago, and Diaz’s 13 goals still lead the CPL.
Despite struggling to find offense lately, Pacific has maintained its trademark attacking style. Forge defender Garven Metusala is expecting more of the same on Sunday.
“Yes, of course. (Pacific) plays a really offensive style,” Mestusala said at Friday’s media conference. “They still have good offensive threats, like (Marco) Bustos, (Josh) Heard, and Daniels (Djenario), so we still have to be careful with their offense.”
After playing Pacific, Forge will travel to Edmonton for their final away match of the season before three consecutive home contests at Tim Hortons Field. As it stands heading into this weekend’s matches, none of Forge’s remaining matches are against clubs sitting in the top four, putting the Hamilton club in a great spot to secure home pitch advantage throughout the postseason.