Forge FC missed a second chance to qualify for the 2021 Champions League in as many weeks on Tuesday night, falling 1-0 to Honduran side Marathon in the CONCACAF League play-in game.
Marathon came close to scoring moments after kickoff, as a corner very nearly went straight into the net. Triston Henry was able to reach up and guide the ball to safety, however, and the game remained scoreless in the early stages.
Marathon would take the lead in the 18th minute, as Edwin Solano fired the ball in from the edge of the six-yard box. Henry kept out the original effort, but Solano made no mistake after the ball fell to him.
Marathon looked like the better team for most of the half and took a deserved 1-0 lead into the break. Forge looked good down the right side with David Choinière and Jonathan Grant causing some trouble for the opposition, but as a whole the club were struggling to find many chances to create a goal.
Mo Babouli had a great chance to equalize just after halftime, smashing a shot off the crossbar, inches away from finding the back of the net.
Despite having more possession of the ball (52%) and shots on target (four, to Marathon’s three), Forge were unable to find a goal, and got more frustrated as the match went on.
A typical CONCACAF tilt — full of hard, often late fouls — this match would see two red cards in the final moments.
First, Kyle Bekker was given a straight red card for a studs-up challenge on the goalscorer Solano, an easy decision for the referee in the 85th minute. Bekker wasn’t as influential as he usually is for The Hammers, and the challenge seemed to be out of pure frustration.
With the sending off, David Edgar, playing the final minutes of his career, got the captain’s armband for Forge, and his leadership would be even more important a few minutes later as Head Coach Bobby Smyrniotis was given a red card as well in stoppage time for dissent.
David Edgar described it best — this match was “a good old-fashioned ding dong”.
While tonight’s defeat was disappointing for them, Forge will have a third and final chance to qualify for the 2021 Champions League in the early part of 2021 when they take on Toronto FC in the 2020 Canadian Championship final. The date for that game is yet to be announced.