2021 CPL regular season (The Kickoff) — Match #22
FC Edmonton vs. Forge FC
July 14, 2021 at 10:00 pm ET/9:00 pm CT
IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca
FC Edmonton and Forge FC are set to face off for the second time at The Kickoff in Winnipeg Wednesday under many different circumstances from their first encounter.
The Eddies snatched all three points from the two-time CanPL defending champions with a 2-0 two weeks ago in the second matchweek at the single-site start to the season.
Truth be told, we likely won’t see the wide-eyed and bushy-tailed late win seen the last match as both teams enter the third week of games at the bubble in Winnipeg.
Forge is “down nine players” according to coach Bobby Smyrniotis, who counts injuries to Tristan Borges, Daniel Krutzen, and Maxim Tissot among others. Centre-back Dejan Jakovic left the team’s 1-0 loss to Valour FC Sunday with an apparent wrist injury while new signings Johnny Son and Kosi Nwafornso have yet to see the pitch at IG Field.
Smyrniotis said before Wednesday’s game, which comes two days after their defeat in the mid-day heat in Winnipeg: “You have to keep a good energy in the group off the field, doesn’t matter whether the result is positive or negative, you’ve got to keep that you got to keep the guys in good spirits.”
Forge does have Josh Navarro at their disposal. The Costa Rican midfielder, while not yet match fit, looked lively in relief on Sunday.
“He showed a good glimpse in his time on the pitch, but it’s also going to take him, you know, a week or two to get up to speed,” Smyrniotis said.
The Eddies come into Wednesday’s tilt following a 2-1 loss to HFX Wanderers FC on Saturday. While coach Alan Koch’s side sit bottom of the early CPL standings, you’d be hard-pressed to say they are on pace for a last-place finish in 2021.
Koch’s defeat to the Wanderers was a tough pill to swallow, though, with an offside shout on the first Joao Morelli goal and Fraser Aird’s top-of-the-box blast leaving the side with some solace.
“We want to go through adverse moments now so we can learn a lot about our group and learn a lot about the individuals, as we’re trying to figure out exactly who are going to be our go-to guys,” Koch told the media before Wednesday’s tilt.
Koch added both his side and Smyrniotis’ are much different looking from the early days of the bubble.
“They’ve improved significantly as we knew they would,” Koch said of his opponents. “They, like us, hadn’t played a game in a long time and tried to figure a couple of things out. I think they’ve grown a lot – it’s going to be a whole different vibe.”
Make your match picks prior to kickoff at canpl.ca/predictor for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 CPL Final!
3 THINGS TO WATCH:
- Poking holes in Edmonton’s backline: FC Edmonton has proved difficult to break down in Winnipeg, coughing up just four goals from five matches. Defensive stars like Amer Didic and Paris Gee were on top form against Forge the first time around, holding them to just two shots on target and 0.53 expected goals. Forge coach Smyrniotis was quick to highlight that element, considering their struggles in their previous affair: “They’re a well-organized team – showed that in the games, and it’s what we’ve seen throughout their time in Winnipeg.”
- Extra day’s rest: The Eddies enter play Wednesday with an extra day’s rest on their Hamiltonian counterparts. While in a standard regular season that may be considered a small advantage, at The Kickoff it’s worth highlighting. Smyrniotis’ side wilted in the summer heat against Valour, something that the coach highlighted before Wednesday’s game: “Valour was a good match. But you can see that the guys were running out of steam. The body needs 48 hours to recover from a game and then you have to activate it and we currently don’t have that time in between.”
- Rabbits run rampant: FC Edmonton has always been Forge’s bogey team, if you could even call them that. The Eddies enter Wednesday’s game with an all-time even record against Hamilton of three wins, three losses and one draw – the only CPL team to keep such a record or better against the two-time title winners. Can Alan Koch continue FCE’s unprecedented run?
FC Edmonton wins: 3 || Forge wins: 3 || Draws: 1
July 1, 2021 – FC Edmonton 2-0 Forge FC
“When we take care of our details, we take care of our business.” – Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis
“We’ve given players an opportunity in Winnipeg. We’re getting to learn a lot about the individuals, we’re getting to learn a lot about our team and that’s just part of the process.” — FC Edmonton coach Alan Koch