Forge FC draw one of Mexico’s most powerful clubs in 2022 CONCACAF Champions League

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Published December 15, 2021 at 7:51 pm

Forge FC’s foray into the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League, however long it may last, may include playing a match in Mexico’s largest stadium.

Wednesday, the Hamilton pro soccer club drew Cruz Azul, one of the most successful clubs in Liga MX, in a Round of 16 matchup in the 16-team club competition. Forge, who are the first Canadian Premier League team to qualify for the competition, will host the first leg of tie at Tim Hortons Field between Feb. 15-17. The second legs are to be played from Feb. 22-24.

Cruz Azul plays in Mexico City’s famed Estadio Azteca, which was a regular seating capacity of 87,000. It has hosted the final of the World Cup twice, including in 1986 when the late Diego Maradona led Argentina to the title (after scoring the infamous Hand of God goal against England in the quarterfinal).

The club itself are nine-time champions of Mexico, and have also won CONCACAF Champions League six times. The site globalfootballrankings.com ranks Cruz Azul’s league, Liga MX, as the ninth-best domestic league in the world, five notches above Major League Soccer.

Forge FC, under coach Bobby Smyrniotis, are entering their fourth year of play in 2022. The club has played in every Canadian Premier League final since the league’s creation, but were the runner-up for the first time after falling against Pacific FC at home on Dec. 5.

Forge qualified for the CONCACAF competition by being one of the top six teams in the CONCACAF league feeder competition. They lost to F.C. Motagua of Honduras in the semifinal on away goals after drawing them twice, 2-2 and 0-0.

The other Canadian club in the 2022 competition, CF Montréal from MLS, will face Santos Laguna of Mexico in the Round 16.

(Cover photo via CONCACAF Match Photography.)

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