VANCOUVER, BC – If Forge and York is a darby, and York has a rivalry with Atletico Ottawa, what do Forge and Ottawa have? So far, not much — but contempt could brew on Saturday as Atletico Ottawa make the trip to Hamilton to take on the two-time CPL Champions.
While each played Canadian Championship matches in midweek, Forge is likely coming into the game with a little more energy in their legs, having controlled the run of play in a reasonably easy win over CS Mont-Royal Outremont. Meanwhile, Atletico played a gruelling match and penalties with York, only to have their championship hopes dashed in defeat.
“You have to control the details more in the recovery process so that the players arrive in a good fitness for the game,” Atletico head coach Carlos Gonzalez told the media about the busy stretch. “It changes because we have to be more sharp in the ideas we want in the game.”
So far this season, though, Ottawa has looked like the better team. For everything they have achieved in their short lifespan, Forge only has two wins on the season and recently fell in the 905 Darby to York United in a frustrating affair.
Despite the lack of pristine results, Forge has danced along the edge of success, losing their two losses by just a single goal and holding over 60 percent possession in both of them. Nevertheless, the play is positive for Forge, and the results are beckoning.
Athletico, however, has had an up-and-down year through their five matches yet has seen a lot of growth and some of the best (and worst) football in their club’s lifespan. While they had a dismal effort in their 6-1 loss to Valour, they rebounded with a favourable draw against Pacific and two hard-fought losses to York. Still, they are winless in three league matches and sit 5th of eight teams.
Saturday won’t be an easy effort for either club, with both looking to string some form together heading into the tail end of May as the season approaches the quarter mark. While Forge won’t be worrying about cracking the top four come year’s end, making the playoffs is an achievement for Atletico Ottawa.
Kickoff is set for 4:00 pm ET at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons’ Field, streaming live on OneSoccer and FuboTV.
THREE KEY POINTS
Kwesi Loney steps in for Carlos Gonzalez
Atletico Ottawa will approach this match with Carelton Ravens head coach Kwesi Loney on the sidelines, as rookie head coach Carlos Gonzlez serves a one-match suspension following a sending-off against Pacific.
While having an assistant coach step into the managerial role for a day is difficult, Loney is more than well prepared for the task, having coached Carleton to a U SPORTS silver medal last season, where they faced a University of Montreal team that featured U SPORTS Draft Picks in the final.
Loney was composed and well-spoken during his post-match media availability following the loss to Pacific. He had to step in mid-match, and that composure will carry over into Saturday in Hamilton.
Terran Campbell’s unofficial record watch
For a season that seemingly started rough for Terran Campbell, things have gotten a lot better. Signing with Forge from Pacific in the offseason, Campbell is finally settling in Head Coach Bobby Smrynitoitis’ system and is within a goal of Easton Ongaro’s CPL goalscoring record.
While the record stands out, it would be somewhat unofficial, as the CPL currently includes CPL Playoff goals in Ongaro’s tally. However, the feat would still be remarkable for Campbell at a new club.
In the Canadian Championship, Campbell continued his stellar form with an early, skillful header getting him his third goal for Forge. His success has come from an adjustment in Forges’ tactics, shifting him to a more central role ahead of Tristan Borges but still allowing him to roam and drop deeper when Emery Welshman or Woobens Pacius front the attack.
If we look at Campbell’s heat maps through his two matches, including a brace and assist against Edmonton and a good shot against York, he has more success when he is not getting stuck in the middle. Yes, Campbell will roam and act as an outlet for passes, but positive things often come when he gets in behind in spurts.
With the unofficial goals record within sight and some potential points over an Ontario foe, look for Campbell to have a big game on Saturday.
Rounding into form for Toronto, Montreal
There are three things that Smyrniotis likes to prioritize — rhythm, finishing the year strong, and the Canadian Championship. For his club, all those things are happening now. Forge doesn’t worry about the league right now but needs to get on the better side of the results as they approach two massive matches.
Priority for the club is finding form ahead of their June 4 “2020 Canadian Championship Final,” against TFC, where they wil have a chance to become the first CPL team to hoist the trophy. Still, they want to get revenge on CF Montreal in the 2022 tournament quarter-final after being eliminated in 11 rounds on penalties in 2021.
I think the football has been very good, I think at the end of the day the biggest difference is scoring more goals, creating more high-quality chances, and I’m saying that and we have scored goals in games,” Smyrniotis said. “ We just need to create more.”
Creating will force rhythm, and Hamilton hopes that combining those two can push them towards some memorable moments against two of the largest and most prominent clubs in Canada.