Final score: Forge FC 2-1 Pacific FC
Goalscorers: Babouli 6 â², Browne 80 â²; Diaz 38 â²
Game of the season 2021: 76
CPL compliance: 211
Match in a minute or less
Forge FC scored three important points at home on Saturday before taking on leaders Pacific FC 2-1 in Panama. Mo Babouli scored with an exceptional finish just six minutes into the fight after Tristan Borges brought him in with a superb long pass, but Pacific equalized just before half-time when Alejandro Diaz brought in a good cross from Kunle Dada-Luke . However, after a few substitutions and tactical changes in the second half, Forge finally scored the winning goal when Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson made a stormy run into the box and hit Panamanian striker Omar Browne, who scored on his debut for the Hammers.
Welsh launch leads to new tactical looks for Forge
It’s a little difficult to describe how exactly Forge were set up on Saturday. With Emery Welshman, who started in number nine, Forge Mo Babouli ousted on the left just ahead of full-back Kwame Awuah, while Tristan Borges and Elimane Cisse formed a similar tandem on the right. With a solid bench of three center-backs, Kyle Bekker and Paolo Sabak left essentially all of the midfield exposed.
Forge was keen to play along the flanks as much as possible as the left side in particular saw a lot of action when attacking full-back Kunle Dada-Luke.
In sections of the second half, Babouli and Borges actually switched sides as Bobby Smyrniotis tried to try out some new combinations – even in sections where Welsh moved on the wing and pushed Babouli up. By keeping the first three so fluid, Forge avoided getting predictable or stale, as all three attackers had very different abilities.
An even bigger shock came in the 65th minute when Smyrniotis brought a new attacking trio into play with Josh Navarro, Woobens Pacius and Omar Browne instead of Babouli, Welsh and Paolo Sabak as they turned into more of a game of 4 -2- 3-1 formation in which Borges plays central and Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson moves from defense to midfield. It worked out really well in the end, as Achinioti-Jonsson was the one who drove the ball into the box before finding Browne to score the winner.
Forge is usually a tactically complex site, but Saturday’s competition was perhaps one of the most interesting as players could adjust to new roles in the middle of the game.
We have a lot of players who can play a lot of different positions, we threw a lot of curveballs to these teams and tried to change that, they expect one thing and we come out and do something different, âBabouli said after the game. âWe have a lot of players who have the quality, the mindset and the knowledge to play in different positions and to play at a high level in those positions. as long as you’re on the pitch doing what you have to do, it doesn’t matter where you play or where you start. A lot also changes in the game. There are many people smart enough to understand that when you take on one position, someone else takes on another. “
With so many versatile players in the roster, Forge is a very difficult team to explore because they can move smoothly from one game plan to another in minutes.
One-touch passing helps Forge move forward quickly
One of the hallmarks of this Forge team is that pretty much every player in the roster has excellent passing range and ball ability. That way, they can play the sprawling, fun football that makes them feel at their best.
On Saturday, the Hammers moved the ball very quickly and played a bit more directly than against some other opponents, with most players needing no more than a touch or two before pushing forward with a pass to a player who was already moving. Forge spent very little time standing still while their team was in possession of the ball, which enabled them to play dangerous steep balls between the lines to help attackers run.
Due to the general ambition of Forge’s direct forward pass, her overall accuracy was slightly lower than usual, falling below 80% for the entire team. While they were unusually sloppy with the ball at times, by and large Forge moved the ball very quickly, especially in the first half.
Despite only scoring two goals, Forge were more efficient with their possession than in some of the recent games where they scrutinized and built more slowly. They managed to get Babouli, Welsh and especially Borges consistently on the ball, which was partly aided by the positioning along the flanks near the full-backs, but also the product of quick, worry-free passes from the center-backs and central midfielders to start the game attack immediately after Forge wins the ball back.
It’s difficult to play consistently at this kind of pace – especially over the course of a long season of congestion – but Bobby Smyrnioti will be delighted when they play with this urgency when needed.
Pacific still can’t get over Forge
Bobby Smyrniotis pointed out after the game that every game between Forge and Pacific seems like an entertaining encounter (but especially for his side, which have now won eight and drawn one of their nine encounters with the Tridents). Saturday was no exception, but it’s starting to become significant that Forge consistently appears to be able to handle Pacific in ways most other CPL teams can’t – especially when this matchup is a preview of a potential playoff- Game should be.
That’s not to say that Pacific was dominated on Saturday – on the contrary, with a slight advantage in possession and duels and eight shots to Forges nine. Even so, for whatever reason, Forge seemed able to break the Pacific defenses a few times earlier, especially in the first half).
Pacific coach Pa-Modou Kah was laconic in his post-game comments and only said “We’ll just go back to the drawing board” when asked how he would rate his team’s performance. Still, Kah admitted that Forge seems to be on the better side right now.
“I think we could definitely have gotten something out of the game today if we had taken care of the ball a little more. I think we hurried,” said Kah. âWhere we are, where we want to go, I think we just have to move on; It’s just a result, it won’t change who we are. Okay, they have our number, but sometimes in football you always have a team that has your number, so it’s up to us to figure out how to get their number. “
Alejandro Diaz, who scored Pacific’s goal on the night, agreed with his coach, adding that he felt his team had difficulty playing through the Forge press in the early stages:
“I think we were a little bit missing with our passports at the beginning, they put a lot of pressure and we had a little bit of problems in our building,” he said. “We gave them chances at the beginning, so it was difficult for us, then we switched a little in the second half of the first half and it was better.”
Sure, Pacific was the most dangerous towards the end of the first half, but they couldn’t quite find the same rhythm to score again in the second frame.
CanPL.ca player of the game
Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson, Forge FC
The talented Swede is one of Forge’s most reliable players and does an excellent job, whether as a center-back or in midfield. On Saturday he spent time in both positions, doing a lot of defensive work (four tackles, two clearances, three interceptions) in a chain of three before he pushed further up and scored the winning goal with a dazzling run.
Forge is now flying to Panama, where they will play the second leg of the Concacaf League round of 16 against Independiente on Tuesday evening (6 p.m. ET) on Sunday, October 3 (3:30 p.m. ET). Pacific will now move on to Winnipeg, where they will face Valor FC on Wednesday night (7:45 PM ET / 6:45 PM CT). See all games live on OneFootball.