Forge FC of Hamilton ousted from Canadian Championship on penalties

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Published October 27, 2021 at 10:33 pm

Forge FC supporters display their scarves at a 2021 Canadian Championship semifinal match between the Hamilton side and CF Montréal on Wednesday. It was the first time in their three-season history that Forge have hosted a Major League Soccer club. (Soccer Canada photo)

A cool Breza whisked Forge FC out of the 2021 Canadian Championship.

By any measure, though, Hamilton’s pro soccer club went toe-to-toe with CF Montréal from Major League Soccer. In front of a characteristically raucous hometown crowd at Tim Hortons Field, Forge and Montréal tied 0-0 in the do-or-done semifinal of the national club championship. Montréal goalkeeper Sebastian Breza shut the door on Forge for 90 minutes. A marathon 11-round penalty shootout came down both teams ‘keepers stepping up to the spot. Breza turned back Forge’s Triston Henry, then beat Henry for a decisive 8-7 margin.

The Canadian Championship (aka CanChamp) is single-elimination this year, rather than a more traditional home-and-away tie. The teams also go directly to penalties in the event of a draw, instead of playing for another 30 minutes.

Forge, who were vying to make it into the CanChamp final for the first time, started an offensive-minded lineup that included Emery Welshman, Tristan Borges, Mo Babouli, and Omar Browne.

Montréal had 52 per cent of the ball, but Forge had a 13-5 edge in shots attempted and a 5-2 edge in shots on target. Welshman had an excellent chance in the 35th minute and had another shortly after the halftime break, but obviously, Breza was there to make the saves.

Forge are 0-2 in penalty shootouts in their brief history. They fell to Arcahaie FC of Haiti in the 2020 CONCACAF League competition.

Montréal will face the winner of the other semifinal on Nov. 3 between Toronto FC and Pacific FC of Victoria, who are one of Forge’s Canadian Premier League rivals.

Meantime, the Forge, under coach Bobby Smynriotis, still have the CPL season and CONCACAF League on their plate.

Forge are currently third on points in the CPL with a 13-2-8 record, good for 41 points from 23 matches. They have games in hand on both league leaders Pacific FC (13-6-7, for 46 points from 26 games) and second-placed Cavalry FC (12-8-5, for 44 points from 25 games).

The Hamilton side hosts fourth-placed HFX Wanderers at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Forge will host Santos de Guápiles of Costa Rica on Nov. 2 in the second leg of the CONCACAF League quarterfinals. Hamilton is down 3-1, but managed an away goal in the first leg.

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