MATCH ANALYSIS: Forge FC stun CF Montréal with lionhearted CanChamp QF win
Canadian Premier League

Final Score: CF Montréal 1-2 Forge FC (2-3 agg.)
Goalscorers: Wanyama 67′; Parra 14′, Poku 24′
2024 TELUS Canadian Championship — Quarter-Final (Leg 2)

Match in a minute or less

Forge FC made club history on Wednesday night, finally defeating a Major League Soccer club by beating CF Montréal 2-1 at Stade Saputo in the Canadian Championship quarter-final, claiming the tie 3-2 on aggregate in one of the most impressive results in CPL history.

Forge broke the deadlock early in the game in just the 14th minute, as Malcolm Duncan switched the play in transition out to the left wing, from which Béni Badibanga found Daniel Parra in the box for a shot that deflected off goalkeeper Sebastian Breza’s hands and in.

Just 10 minutes later, Forge doubled their lead as Duncan again sent a gorgeous ball forward that found Kwasi Poku, who held off the only defender back and flicked it over the ‘keeper with his left foot.

Halftime threw a wrench into Forge’s plans though, as a lightning storm in Montréal meant the second frame was delayed almost two hours. The home side came out of the break firing and eventually Victor Wanyama scored with his head to get one back.

However, Forge stood tall to the end and kept their foes to just one goal. They’ll now advance to the semifinal for the third time in club history, where they’ll hope to make more history and eventually lift the Voyageurs’ Cup.

Three Observations

Forge slay the dragon, survive second-half onslaught to eliminate MLS foe

Forge FC have won a lot of things in their six-year history as a club. They’ve been champions of the Canadian Premier League four times. They’ve been to the semifinals of the Concacaf League. They’ve played giants of Mexican football in the Concacaf Champions Cup twice.

Until now though, they had never beaten a Major League Soccer team. In five matches, they had managed three draws over 90 minutes, but two of those ended in heartbreak as they lost on penalties to CF Montréal in the 2021 semis and Toronto FC in the 2020 final (played in 2022). The other two games were convincing defeats at Stade Saputo, which was threatening to become the site of nightmares for Forge had Wednesday been a similar story.

But it wasn’t. Having reminded Montréal in Leg 1 that they were able to go toe-to-toe with the MLS side, Forge were even better in this reverse fixture. For the first time on a trip to Québec, they were clearly the better side and had an aggressive, front-footed approach, making the most of their limited opportunities by striking as quickly as possible.

The second half was a bit of a different story as Forge’s momentum sputtered a little. With the match delayed almost two hours during halftime due to a lightning storm, Montréal had plenty of time to regroup and come out of the break hard.

So, Forge had no choice but to weather another kind of storm, and Montréal definitely made a game of it. Victor Wanyama scored in the 67th minute and Forge, for a bit, looked noticeably shaken.

(Photo: Audrey Magny)

Bobby Smyrniotis reacted quickly by pulling Kwasi Poku off and deploying a more defensive option in Malik Owolabi-Belewu as he switched to a back five, and although Forge suffered a few more scares — saved thanks to some great saves by Kalongo and one outstanding tackle from Owolabi-Belewu — they eventually found a way to settle the game down and take the wind out of Montréal’s sails.

“Everyone has prepared a way to do things,” Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis said postmatch. “I think in the first half our guys came out and did it perfectly — just as we’d drawn it up, and a little bit better.”

By the end of it all, nearly four hours after kickoff, every single Forge player was utterly drained, having spent so long defending a true kitchen-sink effort from Montréal in the final 15 minutes.

Forge defended like lions, weathering 15 shots in the second half as Montréal sent 40 crosses into the box in just those 45 minutes. They won 55.3 per cent of the duels though, which meant many of those attempts were ultimately harmless. Still, Chris Kalongo had to make four excellent saves (seven in total on the night).

By the end of it, the CPL side had made 43 clearances and won 42 duels. Every single starter won at least one duel (Daniel Parra won 11).

“We’re a club that always tries to create some tradition,” Smyrniotis said. “We’re a club that’s six years old, we think big all the time as a club. To be able to do that, one thing we don’t have is this trophy. That’s how we look at it, and it’s a tough road to get there. We know what you need to go through; each round gets tougher, but you have to think big. If you think big, your players think big, and we get good results like we did over these two games.”

Forge were made to work for this moment they’ve desired for years.

And there’s no doubt they earned it.

Now, they’ve got their eyes on the semifinal.

Direct, aggressive attack with striker Poku serves Forge well

Sometimes, the hand you’re dealt ends up being a winner.

Forge’s starting XI had just one surprise in it on Wednesday, as Kwasi Poku — naturally a winger or fullback — got the nod at centre-forward. With Terran Campbell out injured and Jordan Hamilton not fully fit with a knock of his own, Bobby Smyrniotis didn’t have a lot of options at the number nine spot; in Saturday’s CPL match he played 19-year-old Amadou Koné in the role, where the youngster fared reasonably well but had just 21 touches in over an hour of work.

This time, Smyrniotis chose to try Poku in an unfamiliar position in an effort to get as much attacking quality on the pitch as possible.

Forge entered the game knowing they absolutely had to score at least once to stand a chance of advancing, and they played like it from kickoff.

The visitors were fairly single-minded with the ball; they were willing to cede the advantage in possession and invite Montréal into their half, from which they could launch counter-attacks and create numerical advantages.

Forge’s shoot-first mentality was clear from the outset, with Poku testing Breza in the fifth minute from outside the box. Not long after, they opened the scoring on the break just as they’d planned: Malcolm Duncan helped relieve pressure at the back and sent it up to Béni Badibanga in space. Badibanga drove forward at defenders and sucked them toward him, then found Daniel Parra who shot quickly after sorting out his feet and was rewarded.

The second goal was the product of an even more aggressive direct ball from Duncan, who hit it straight ahead to Poku for a quick break.

Poku showed in that moment that he was, perhaps, the perfect candidate to play the centre-forward role in a game where Forge intended to play on the counter. His pace and awareness helped him get to the ball first, touch it into a lane where he could keep it, and release at just the right time to chip it over Breza and score.

Forge adjusted when they needed to, and didn’t play exactly the same kind of possession-oriented football they usually do, but their intensity and deliberate action carried them through, especially in the first half.

(Photo: Audrey Magny)

Montréal let down by defending, can’t recover despite improvement post-delay

The past few weeks have not been pleasant for CF Montréal. They have lost four consecutive MLS games, and after this match they have one win in their last 12 in all competitions. Over the course of that stretch, they’ve been outscored 31-13.

The same problems that have plagued them in league play presented themselves on Wednesday against Forge. Namely, their defending let them down. When Badibanga moved toward the box ahead of the first goal, they were far too passive in letting him claim territory and nobody closed him down; likewise, nobody was tracking Daniel Parra’s path into the box or stepped toward him when he received the ball.

Forge repeatedly tried to exploit Montréal’s high defensive line and successfully did so a few times, with their attackers winning footraces against Montréal’s defenders — or at least putting enough pressure on to win a throw-in high up the pitch. The second goal, again, was a product of that defensive frailty as it was a fairly simple play for Duncan to release Poku in behind the high line with a long ball.

At the other end of the pitch, Montréal became much more dangerous in the second half. After spending the first 45 minutes with 62.1 per cent possession but just 0.33 expected goals, they came out of the weather delay by producing 0.96 xG and 15 shots from 76 per cent possession.

However, they still couldn’t solve Forge’s defence as the CPL side seemed to get to every second ball to preserve their lead and eliminate Montréal. Player of the Match

Daniel Parra, Forge FC

The Mexican fullback scored the opening goal and won 11 out of 14 duels, including all five aerials. He also made an outstanding 11 clearances, playing a massive role in the defensive effort to preserve the lead in the second half.

Box Score


CF Montréal: Breza; Campbell, Corbo, Sosa (Álvarez 46′); Zouhir (Biello 90+2′), Wanyama (Piette 79′), M. Choinière, Iliadis (Lassiter 46′); Duke, Ibrahim, Yankov (Vilsaint 46′)

Forge FC: Kalongo; Duncan, Achinioti-Jönsson, Metusala, Parra; Hojabrpour, Borges (Jensen 70′), Bekker; D. Choinière (Samuel 87′), Poku (Owolabi-Belewu 68′), Badibanga (Hamilton 70′)


14′ — Daniel Parra (Forge FC)
24′ — Kwasi Poku (Forge FC)
67′ — Victor Wanyama (CF Montréal)


48′ — Yellow: Daniel Parra (Forge FC)
65′ — Yellow: David Choinière (Forge FC)
69′ — Yellow: Malcolm Duncan (Forge FC)

What’s next?

Forge now advance to the semifinals, where they’ll take on one of Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, or the winner of next week’s second leg between Pacific FC and Atlético Ottawa. That next round will kick off in July.

In Canadian Premier League action, Forge return to the pitch this Saturday, May 25 as they travel to the nation’s capital to play Atlético Ottawa (3 p.m. ET).

Watch all TELUS Canadian Championship matches live on OneSoccer. 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.