PREVIEW: Pacific FC vs Forge FC — Match #25
Canadian Premier League

2021 CPL regular season (The Kickoff) — Match #25
Pacific FC vs Forge FC
July 17, 2021 at 10:00 pm ET/9:00 pm CT
IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Pacific FC: Irving, Chung, Haynes, Samake, Macnaughton, Diaz, Bustos, Polisi, Hojabrpour, Dixon, Bassett

Forge FC: Henry, Samuel, Awuah, Cissé, Bekker, Nanco, Achinioti-Jönsson, Babouli, Metusala, Sabak, Navarro


Looking to get payback for the last time these teams met, Pacific FC take on Forge FC on Saturday night in the second match of the CPL’s weekend schedule.

These sides last met on July 4th, in their third matches of the season. Pacific FC were coming off a win and a draw in their matches, while Forge were looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses to begin the season. Forge were much better than in their first two matches, scoring three goals in about 10 minutes to earn a 3-0 victory and get themselves in the win column.

Pacific have not enjoyed this fixture historically. Over seven Canadian Premier League meetings, Forge have won six times, with the other match being a draw during the 2019 season. Forge have outscored Pacific 17-4 in that span, scoring multiple goals in every meeting but the aforementioned 2019 draw — a 1-1 stalemate in British Columbia.

In his pre-match press conference, Pacific head coach Pa-Modou Kah revealed that for the first time this season everyone on the roster is available for Pacific, including Matthew Baldisimo, Manny Aparicio and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère — who have all missed games already during The Kickoff. Baldisimo is yet to see the pitch at all, so having a full group of players available to him is a huge boost for Kah.

“At this moment we have everyone available,” Kah said. “I’ve got to pick and choose, which is not always easy, I can only pick 18 players, so there will be some disappointed faces but this is football.

“Today might not be your day, but tomorrow is your day. You’ve just got to keep grinding, there are 21-22 games left in the season.”

It is very much the opposite situation for Forge FC, with head coach Bobby Smyrniotis saying that as many as nine players could miss out for The Hammers through injury. Tristan Borges and Maxim Tissot returned to the pitch in their last match — a 1-0 win over FC Edmonton — both coming off the bench for about 15-20 minutes in the second half.

Both seemed due to necessity, as they were the healthiest two options, with 18-year-old Robbie Clearly also coming off the bench for a short cameo.

Smyrniotis said on Thursday that Forge “looked at a few of the guys who we’re hoping to bring back up to speed for Saturday’s match” earlier in the day, but it remains to be seen who is healthy enough to take the pitch at some point this weekend.

He was hopeful that Forge might have David Choinière ready to play some minutes, after being an unused substitute in Wednesday’s match, and the same for Daniel Krutzen.

“They’re more on the bench to work themselves out as opposed to sitting all day and not getting a training session in,” he added. “A few guys were dressed (on Wednesday against FC Edmonton) only for the purpose of getting some fitness in during warmup before the game.”

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  • Battle in central midfield: This match will feature some of the best central midfielders in the Canadian Premier League, including reigning Player of the Year Kyle Bekker. Forge also have Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson, Paolo Sabak and Elimane Cissé, among others, at their disposal — making up one of the deepest midfields in the league. Pacific FC’s core is nothing to scoff at either — captain Jamar Dixon and former York captain Manny Aparicio are leaders and difference-makers on the pitch alongside standout newcomer Ollie Bassett and a talented core of youngsters: Matthew Baldisimo, Sean Young, Alessandro Hojabrpour and Matteo Polisi, among others. Whoever the two head coaches opt to pick will be crucial to their team’s success in this match. Bassett in particular already has a goal and two asssists this season, while Forge captain and midfield counterpart Bekker scored a pair of brilliant goals against Cavalry FC recently. The midfield battle will be entertaining, and whoever wins it will fancy their chances at taking all three points.
  • Goals aplenty in this fixture: In seven meetings between these two sides, there have been 21 goals scored. An average of three goals a game, 17 of them have been scored by Forge — who have won six of those matches, including the 3-0 victory over Pacific on July 4th. The highest scoring match between these sides was a 3-2 Forge victory back in 2019, the type of five-goal spectacle that neutral fans can only dream of. With Pacific FC’s star man Marco Bustos in great form — with three goals and two assists through six matches — could this be the game in which Pacific finally take down the reigning champions?
  • How involved will Tristan Borges be?: As mentioned above, Forge FC are dealing with an injury crisis at the moment, with as many as nine players hurt in some way, including their star attacker and inaugural league MVP Tristan Borges. A Borges-Bustos matchup is mouthwatering for Canadian Premier League fans, but depending on how the past few days have gone, Borges could still be limited to a short role off the bench in relief of someone, as he was against Edmonton on Wednesday. When he’s healthy and in top form, he’s one of the best players in the CPL, but his impact on Saturday’s match remains to be seen.


Pacific FC wins: 0 || Forge FC wins: 6 || Draws: 1

Previous match:

July 4, 2021 – Forge FC 3-0 Pacific FC


“I think tomorrow we are going against ourselves. If you take away the result from the 3-0, we had the better chances — we hit the post — that was just football being ruthless. I think it’s a great game, it’s two footballing teams that want to play football — it’s always a chess match.” — Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah

“They have an identity in the way they wanna play — where they want to get the ball, how they approach their attack — they’ve been a bit more direct this year, as opposed to overpassing sometimes as they’ve in the past. They want to get the ball into the final third as quickly as possible to guys like Marco Bustos, who’s an important component to their attack.” — Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis