Hamilton’s Forge FC falter in first leg of CONCACAF League quarterfinal

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Published October 20, 2021 at 9:58 pm

Forge FC's Daniel Krutzen attempts to tackle a Santos de Guápiles foe in a CONCACAF League quarterfinal first leg match in San José, Costa Rica on Wednesday (Oct. 20). (CONCACAF photo)

Forge FC will be in a two-goal hole when they pick up their CONCACAF League quarterfinal with Santos de Guápiles FC in two weeks.

Hamilton’s pro soccer club scored early but could not hold onto the lead Wednesday, falling 3-1 to Costa Rica’s Santos de Guapiles in the first leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF League quarterfinal.

Kyle Bekker had the Forge goal in the sixth minute. Javon East, Christopher Meneses and Brayan Lopez scored for Santos, which is the second-placed club in Costa Rica’s top league.

The return leg is Nov. 2 at Tim Hortons Field.

The CONCACAF League is a 22-team feeder tournament that will send six sides to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the flagship club competition in the region that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. The four semifinalists move on to the Champions League, along with the two best losing quarterfinalists.

Bekker opened the scoring for Forge by beating Santos ‘keeper Kevin Ruiz with a low right-footed shot from around the penalty spot after Forge’s Costa Rican midfielder Joshua Navarro cut the ball back to his captain in the penalty box.

East replied for Santos in the 12th minute, scoring on a header off a Osvaldo Rodriguez free kick. The Forge defence did not react quickly enough to the set piece, with the Jamaican international striker left unmarked.

Meneses made it 2-1 for the home side in the 17th minute with a shot that deflected off Forge defender Dominic Samuel into the goal with ‘keeper Triston Henry rooted to the spot. Rodriguez delivered the original cross that was headed away but not to safety, finding Meneses instead.

Forge’s Omar Browne had a good chance in the 36th minute on a three-on-two counterattack. The Panamanian forward elected to keep the ball himself rather than pass and curling his shot just wide.

Lopez upped the Santos lead to 3-1 in the 52nd, left alone in front of goal for a tap-in after a pretty passing play opened up the Forge defence. Juan Diego Madrigal found Rodriguez with a cross and the Santos skipper set up Lopez.

Forge appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty after Navarro went down in the box in the 60th minute under a Pablo Arboine challenge.

Currently third in the CPL at 13-8-1, Forge is also still alive in the Canadian Championship with a semifinal date against CF Montreal on Oct. 27.

Prior to that, they visit HFX Wanderers for a league match on Saturday.

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