HAMILTON, Ont.—On Saturday afternoon, Forge FC will host Cavalry FC at Tim Hortons Field in the first leg of the inaugural Canadian Premier League Finals.
After 98 games over the Spring and Fall Seasons, seven teams have been reduced to two, with the two best teams over the full 28-game season more than deserving of a chance to be named champions.
This will be the eighth time these two teams will have met in 2019, following five CanPL league games and a two-legged series in the Canadian Championship.
Let’s take a look at how they got here.
Cavalry FC’s road to the Finals
Cavalry have been the team to beat in the CPL all year. They came flying out of the gates, winning their first seven league games, quickly establishing themselves as one of the league’s best sides. During that run they also knocked Pacific FC and Forge FC out of the Canadian Championship.
Their unbeaten streak was finally ended in a league game on June 22, by who else, but Forge FC. Forge became the first (and so far only) side to beat them in CPL action, perhaps giving Bobby Smyrniotis’ side some extra confidence heading into the Finals.
Cavalry won the 10-game Spring Season, earning a spot in the Finals back in June, so it would have been easy for them to slow down a bit and take the foot off the gas, but that’s exactly the opposite of what they did, as they won the Fall Season crown as well.
The team from Calgary went 11-5-2 in the 18-game fall season, including a huge 8-0 win against Valour FC, which will likely remain a league record for largest win for quite some time.
It looked as though Forge might win the Fall Season, after they beat Cavalry on October 16 to take a two-point advantage in the standings, but Cavalry took advantage of their game in hand, beating FC Edmonton three days later to take top spot by one point.
Forge FC’s road to the Finals
Forge have been breathing down Cavalry’s neck for most of the season. While Cavalry have lost just four times in CPL action this year, three of those losses came against Forge (all 1-0 wins — two in Hamilton and one in Calgary).
Because Cavalry won both the Spring and Fall Seasons, the second CanPL Finals spot was given to the team with the most points over the full 28-game season. Forge finished with 56 points, comfortably beating third-place York9 FC, who had 34.
As well as the Canadian Championship (where they lost to Cavalry), Forge also took part in the CONCACAF League, a continental tournament, adding four games to their schedule. They beat Guatemalan side Antigua GFC 2-1 on aggregate at the beginning of August, but fell 4-2 to Honduran side Olimpia in the Round of 16 later that month.
Forge will be without two key defenders as both Dominic Samuel and Bertrand Owundi will miss this match through suspension (a red card and yellow card accumulation, respectively). Cavalry will be hoping to take advantage, as an away goal or two in this first leg could be vital in deciding the winner of the inaugural CanPL Finals.
The Golden Boot is also on the line, as the players in first and second place are both playing in this series. In first is Forge’s Tristan Borges, who has found the back of the net 12 times, just ahead of Dominique Malonga’s 11 for Cavalry.
Head to Head results:
Cavalry v Forge Head-to-Head Results
|Forge 1-2 Cavalry||May 12||Spring Season|
|Forge 1-1 Cavalry||June 4||Canadian Championship|
|Cavalry 2-1 Forge||June 11||Canadian Championship|
|Cavalry 0-1 Forge||June 22||Spring Season|
|Forge 1-0 Cavalry||August 25||Fall Season|
|Cavalry 2-1 Forge||October 9||Fall Season|
|Forge 1-0 Cavalry||October 16||Fall Season|
Dominic Samuel (Forge) – Red Card
Bertrand Owundi (Forge) – Yellow Card Accumulation
Chris Serban (Cavalry) – Out
Dean Northover (Cavalry) – Out
Nik Ledgerwood (Cavalry) – Day-to-day
Alexander Achinioti Jonsson (Forge) – Doubtful
The match will be available on OneSoccer, and on CBC. If you want to witness Canadian soccer history in person, you can still grab tickets here.