2022 CPL Regular Season — Match #42 (ComeOn! Match of the Week)
HFX Wanderers vs. Forge FC
June 19, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. AT/2:00 p.m. ET
Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, Nova Scotia
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In the first of two Canadian Premier League games on Sunday, HFX Wanderers host Forge FC in the ComeOn! Match of the Week.
The home side are coming off a 2-1 win in Edmonton in midweek, coming back from a goal down to take all three points in the Alberta capital. After Wesley Timoteo made it 1-0 for the Eddies ten minutes in, Halifax responded early in the second half, with Sam Salter scoring twice in quick succession to earn a 2-1 victory for the visitors.
Forge, meanwhile, travel to the east coast after dominating the reigning champions Pacific FC at Tim Hortons Field last weekend. Ashtone Morgan gave The Hammers the lead in the 11th minute with his first CPL goal, before Tristan Borges continued his good run, finishing off a nice team play with an easy finish two minutes later. Woobens Pacius finished The Tridents off with an 83rd minute goal from the penalty spot.
The win extended Forge’s unbeaten run to four matches, and was their third win on the bounce. They’ve exploded offensively in their last three CPL games, scoring four goals at Wanderers Grounds against this same HFX side before a 4-3 win in Edmonton and then the 3-0 win over Pacific — three matches that account for 11 of their 18 goals this season.
HFX’s Salter was the lone representative for his club in the Team of the Week, while Forge had four players chosen — Morgan, Aboubacar Sissoko, Alessandro Hojabrpour and Borges.
Forge’s overpowering of HFX on May 20 was their only meeting thus far in 2022, with Sunday’s contest set to be meeting number two. Forge will host the other two meetings this season, at Tim Hortons Field on August 6 and October 9.
Ten games into their 2022 season, HFX Wanderers have 14 points, and sit in fifth place in the table. Also on 14 points, but from just eight matches and with a better goal differential, Forge hold onto the fourth and final playoff spot,
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3 THINGS TO WATCH
- Forge quickly flying up the table, and have games in hand: The two-time CPL champions got off to a bit of a slow start in the 2022 regular season, but in recent times have been starting to realize their full potential. After starting the season 1-1-2, Forge have since gone 3-1-0, climbing up the table into fourth place. Bernie this weekend’s matches, Forge had reached fourth place, with 14 points from eight matches. Most importantly, Forge have played the fewest games of any team in the CPL, playing eight entering this weekend’s action, two behind five of the other teams, and three fewer than FC Edmonton and Pacific FC. The team’s offence has also exploded as of late, scoring at least three goals in each of their last three CPL matches – a 4-0 win in Halifax, a 4-3 win in Edmonton and a 3-0 win at home against Pacific FC last time out. With only the CPL to focus on for the rest of the year, for the first time in their short history, Bobby Smyrniotis’ squad looks to be in great shape to continue to grow into a dangerous title contender once again. “We’ve played less games than other teams, which makes us be in the middle of the table,” said attacker Woobens Pacius. “If we keep going like this, and keep getting the three points every week, we’re going to be on top of the table. We’re focused, we aren’t stressed about anything, we’re focused on our next game and it’s going to be like this every week.”
- Tristan Borges reminding everyone he’s one of the CPL’s best: In 2019, Tristan Borges was the easy pick for Player of the Year and U21 Canadian Player of the Year awards. Also the winner of the Golden Boot for leading the league in goals, and tied for the league lead in assists, Borges was dominant and earned himself a transfer to OH Leuven in Belgium. Unable to break into the squad, he returned to Forge on loan for the 2021 CPL season, and showed flashes of brilliance but had some trouble finding consistency. He was brought back on loan for the 2022 CPL campaign, his third now with the club, and has thus far found the level that made him a human highlight reel three years ago. In just six matches, Borges already has five goals and an assist, and sits just one goal back of Pacific’s Alejandro Diaz for the league lead. He’s scored in three straight matches in all competitions, including the third hat trick in CPL history in Forge’s 4-3 win over Edmonton a few weeks. He then scored in the 2020 Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC, before following that up with a goal against Pacific last weekend — a brilliant run into the box before only needing a tap in to redirect home a cross into the area from David Choiniere. Borges has been deployed both out wide and centrally, recently thriving as the left winger in a 4-3-3 formation for Smyrniotis’ side. Any team in any sport needs their important players to step up in important moments, and Borges is currently the most in-form player in the league, and has been named to the Team of the Week twice in the past three editions.
- Can HFX build on comeback win in Edmonton?: At times this season, HFX Wanderers have struggled to put up the offensive numbers that any team with playoff aspirations needs in the CPL. Despite scoring just 10 goals, and conceding 12, in 10 matches, the Haligonians still find themselves in fifth place entering this weekend’s set of games. They’re tied on points with Forge (although Forge have the aforementioned two games in hand), and four points back of second-place Pacific and third-place Atlético Ottawa. In Edmonton midweek, they were down 1-0 at halftime after conceding early, but a quick brace from Sam Salter early in the second half earned all three points for his team on the road. It was only the third time all season that they’ve scored 2+ goals in a game, a positive development for a team in search of an offensive spark. Now the challenge is to not only stop a Forge offence that’s firing on all cylinders, but to try and continue to break out themselves. Salter will be a big part of that, as will Akeem Garcia – who is still looking to recapture the consistent good form that saw him win the 2020 Golden Boot. Halifax have one of the best midfields in the league and defensively they’re solid when everyone is fit and firing, so scoring goals at the other end of the pitch must be their priority as they push to jump into the top four.
HFX Wanderers wins: 2 || Forge wins: 5 || Draws: 6
May 20, 2022 — HFX Wanderers 0-4 Forge FC
“One thing we know is that Halifax are traditionally a very good team at home. They’ve only lost a few times, and we’ve won a few times there, but games have been by a single goal margin. Our last game there was 4-0… I think Halifax take a lot of pride in playing at home, and they’re going to take a lot of pride in the fact that they probably weren’t happy with that last performance they had against us.” — Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis