Edmonton seeks another surprise, Forge looks to stay among the elite

TORONTO, ON – From the Alberta snow facing York to a spring day in Hamilton, FC Edmonton hits the road for the first time this season, looking for their first win. Meanwhile, their two-time CPL Champion hosts have the same task ahead.

Forge FC welcomes FC Edmonton to Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET, with both clubs looking to shed their two-match draw streaks and keep pace with the top half of the league.

Forge enters the match with a loss and a draw, while Edmonton boast two draws.

For Hamilton, they need a win to ensure their place among the CPL’s elite conversation; meanwhile, Edmonton will look to continue its shocking run of success. 

The season is already a surprise for FC Edmonton, the CPL’s first league-owned club. With a roster built nearly exclusively on loan players, the Eddies have not lost, drawing Valour on opening day, and grabbing a point off York in the second week. 

However, facing Forge is a monumental task, despite the Hamiltonians being winless this season. Even head coach Alan Koch has been surprised by the Eddies’ strong start to the season, albeit against two of the likely weaker clubs on paper. 

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Both teams come into the match riding some momentum from last week, having scored goals in the final seven minutes to earn a point for their sides, and that is not the only piece they have in common either. In Week 1, Tobias Warschewski scored a bicycle kick to start the season, and in Week 2, Forge’s Alessandro Hojabrpour and David Choiniere scored belters — both teams are scoring late, and they’ve scored stunners. 

Winless, late-game heroics and golazos. There’s not much to split Forge and Edmonton on paper so far this season. Still, however, Forge has all the pressure on them being at home and having two North Star Shields to their club’s name. 

“The most important thing is the process, and we’ve had a lot of positive things coming out of the first two games,” Forge’s Bobby Smyrniotis said. “The results haven’t been our way but the one thing I know is we stick to that and we keep on going.”

The two clubs have had polar opposite experiences in the CPL throughout the first three seasons, making their similar starts even more intriguing. Still, another draw, let alone a loss, spells different futures for both sides. 

While each are desperate for a win on Saturday, their CPL history is even, with four wins apiece and a draw between them. Despite their differing fanbase size and on-pitch success, it has been an even battle when they clash. 

Edmonton: Finish in the attacking third

Outside of Warschewski’s wonder strike, there has not been much falling in favour of FC Edmonton in the final third. While they don’t have the depth of players to call on, there is still attacking quality throughout their roster; it just didn’t click in 2022.

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The likes of U SPORTS draft picks Gabriel Bitar and Kairo Coore have goals in them but are yet to hit the scoresheet, and the same can be said for Warschewski and Julian Ulbright. However, despite getting nine shots against York, none of the forwards could finish. 

There needs to be more quality from Edmonton’s strikers in front of goal, and against a Forge side that has clear holes and a goalkeeper with a tendency for rebounds, they will have to attack in numbers. 

Forge: Can Borges or Campbell get rolling?

As the cliche goes, to win leagues, it starts with defence. Of course, for Forge, that needs improvement. But on the other side, teams need their best players to stand out, and for Forge, that has to come through Kyle Becker and CPL veterans Tristan Borges and Terran Campbell. 

Campbell showed improvements in his second game with the club, shifting to a more central role and finding attacking pockets, but he still could not finish his earned chances. On the other end, Borges returned to the lineup and looked comfortable in his brief shift in the second half. 

13 Goals: How Tristan Borges earned his European move – Canadian Premier  League
(Canadian Premier League)

Both players have proven to be game-changers in the league over the first three seasons, and if they get going, Forge gets rolling, but it will take until that point for Forge to be back in the conversation for the league’s best attack. 

Edmonton is a very stingy and constructed team at the back, rarely allowing shots from central positions. However, Campbell knows some of Koch’s tendencies from his days with him in the USL Championship while also showing his qualities against diverse backlines in the past. 

For us [Forge], it’s just important to get into a rhythm early. If we find an FC Edmonton that sits low, we’ve just got to be patient about it,” Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis said. “We’ve got some new players who are just coming along, so it just takes a little bit of time.”

Forge FC and FC Edmonton kick-off at 4:00 p.m. ET at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont., streaming live on OneSoccer.ca with post-match coverage on Between the Sticks. 

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