York and Forge seek rhythm in first 905 Derby of 2022

Toronto, ON – In a regionalized 2021 CPL schedule, York United and Forge FC became well acquainted. However, each match felt dull for a 905 Derby that once held bragging rights and weight, with no impact or rivalry. Yet, it’s 2022, the CPL has a balanced schedule, and the two Southern Ontario sides clash just a few times this season. 

For the first time since 2019, the 905 Derby is well and truly back, and it all gets started on Friday night when the two-time CPL Champions visit York Lions Stadium in a match with not just bragging flights but valuable points on the line. 

York United enter the match with a bit of a pep in their step after a last-minute, hard-fought draw with fellow Ontario rivals Atletico Ottawa last weekend, as they added another result to their now three-match unbeaten streak. The impetus for the hosts will be to translate draws into wins, and they get a chance to do so against yet another rival. 

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While the Nine Stripes enter the match with a quick game to look back on just a week ago, Forge has been off for two weeks and come into the game well-rested, having had their visit to Winnipeg postponed due to COVID-19 cases. Although the time off could allow them to be fresher, they miss out on match sharpness that can translate week-to-week as they look to string together wins for the first time this season. 

While the match pits two familiar clubs for what seems like the hundredth time, there are new faces in the fold. York manager Martin Nash may be familiar with the Hamilton club from his days as a Cavalry FC assistant but faces Forge for the first time as a head coach. Meanwhile, the newfound young star in York’s Osaze de Rosario will look to write his name into the derby’s novel.

Whichever way it goes, the match is a competitive one whenever the two sides take the field, and in 2022, with both clubs sitting midtable, the points hold more significance than ever. 

“The games have always been excellent. [York] has always been a tough team for us to play,” Forge head coach Bobby Smrytyotis said. “York has a new head coach, a different approach to how they go about the games, and I think that’s what we are looking forward to most tomorrow night.” 

Three Things to watch:

Forge’s sharpness after two weeks off

Although it may be the realities in a COVID-19 impacted season, last week’s postponed match broke a rhythm for Forge, forcing them to focus on an extra week of training and potentially losing some of their match sharpness. 

“Guys were ready to go, and you want that rhythm early in the year, I don’t like a lot of rest, we’re used to going with a lot of games, and it could make this one quite interesting,” Forge head coach Bobby Smyryotis told reporters. “We’ve been able to work on a few things that we want to work  on, so energy shouldn’t be an issue, but the rhythm is an important thing.”

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While the week off could hurt the flow of Forge’s attacking patterns and defensive structure, the additional week allowed them to iron out some of the problems that may have continued with new players still getting used to the systems that have led the club to two North Star Shield. 

Their last performance against Edmonton was a dominant 3-0 win. Things began to click, particularly in the attack; however, York is a much more structured team to break down, making it an intriguing matchup.

Record watch for De Rosario, Campbell

There were few expectations when Osaze de Rosario signed with York United during the preseason. The son of great Canadian goalscorer Dwayne De Rosario, folks, knew the name, but the thought of record-breaking as a rookie was far-fetched. Jump ahead a few months, and De Rosario has a chance to become the second CPL player to score in four straight games. 

After converting a penalty kick against Ottawa and scoring a couple of screaming against Edmonton and Cavalry, the 20-year-old can tie Forge’s Tristan Borges for the most consecutive games with a goal; a record Borges set in the 2019 inaugural season. 

“He’s got great energy, works really hard, he has the ability to finish from short and long so he can score all types of goals,” Nash said on De Rosario. “He’s been big because we were without Lowell [Wright], and he was our only striker for a couple of games, and once he got his chance, he’s played really well.

On the other side, however, it is another striker with the spotlight, as new Forge signing Terran Campbell can put himself atop the CPL all-time goalscoring lists with a single strike. In Hamilton’s last match, the former Pacific FC target man got a brace against Edmonton and sits level with former Eddies forward Easton Ongaro with 24 CPL goals. One more, and he’s in league legends territory. 

There are a lot of top-quality players set to take the pitch at York Lions Stadium, and two of them could make Friday night one for the history books. 

How good is York’s dynamic attack?

This season, York United has had one of the best attacks in the league, and their attack is dynamic in several aspects. While they will likely miss Oliver Minatel after injury forced him to exit last week’s match early. The Nine Stripes can call upon the likes of De Rosario, Lowell Wright, Noah Verhoeven, Isaiah Johnston, Max Ferrari, Diyaeddine Abzi, and Chrisinovic N’sa, among others. 

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Although their expected goals of 4.96 sit in the middle of the league, the multi-layered aspects of their attack prove a challenge to any opponent. How they fare against a stingy Forge defence will be a good measuring stick for the Toronto club to build on. 

Where to watch?

Supporters can attend the York United vs Forge FC match for just $5 on Friday night at York Lions Stadium if they wear any soccer merchandise. If you can’t make it to the ground, the match is live on OneSoccer.ca. The kickoff is set for 7:30 pm ET.

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