The Beginning of History: Forge FC, York 9 FC face off in opening CPL match


Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (April 27, 2019) — Team announcements. Supporters groups formed. Kit reveals. Media Partnerships. Player signings. It has all lead to this moment: the first Kick in a brand new league. It’s a league by Canadians, for Canadians.

With the eyes of Canadian soccer fans focused on Hamilton, the Canadian Premier League finally began just after 1 p.m. ET at Tim Hortons Field between Forge FC vs. York 9 FC.

The opening ceremonies were well done, with plenty of smoke and fireworks to go along with the occasion.

The field was alive with activity well before the match, despite the cold. With an announced attendance of 17,611, Tim Horton’s Field was full, though not really at capacity.

Starting Lineups

Both York 9 and Forge FC had a mix of young players and relative veterans on the field. Players with MLS experience, like Ryan Telfer and Kyle Porter for York 9 and Kyle Bekker, Emery Welshman and Kwame Awuah for Forge FC.

Both teams had a surprise starting goalkeeper, with former Toronto FC keeper Quillan Roberts on the bench for Forge, and York 9 stopper Matt Silva left out in favor of Triston Henry and Nathan Ingham, respectively.

Inaugural Match Starts with a Bang

It took three minutes for the Canadian Premier League to get its first goal. Toronto FC loanee Ryan Telfer took advantage of a defensive lapse and slotted past Henry to give York 9 the early lead.

Emery Welshman nearly tied the match up with an audacious bicycle kick effort only two minutes later, but fired wide. Things settled down as the half went on, with Forge FC getting the better of the possession and chances through the half. An early injury to Johnny Grant saw former Minnesota United defender Bertrand Owundi enter the game.

The second half was dominated by Forge FC, who put their first-ever goal in thanks to Kadell Thomas. Thomas, a Sigma FC product, was praised extensively by Forge FC head  coach Bobby Smyrniotis in the post-game press conference.

Though Forge FC pushed hard for a late go-ahead goal, there was nothing doing and the first ever Canadian Premier League game finished a 1-1 draw.

A Physical Affair

During halftime, Canadian Premier League commissioner David Clanachan met with reporters to discuss how the first half was shaping up. He was quite bullish about the style of play in the first half.

“I don’t see a lot of guys diving and rolling around [. . .] they’re playing a good, tough, hard game, the way you’d expect Canadians to play a sport [. . .],” Clanchan said. “Hard. Fast. Fair. Not dirty, no diving. No cheating.”

Things really came to a head in the second half, as the physical play started to dominate the match. York 9 captain Manny Aparicio went into the book for a lunging tackle in the 59th minute. Not long after, Forge FC captain Kyle Bekker came in late on York 9’s Joseph Di Chiara with what looked like an elbow to the face. Referee Dave Gantar called for a Forge FC throw in, much to the dismay of York 9 manager Jimmy Brennan. Speaking to reporters after the game, Brennan was diplomatic about the decision, saying that he didn’t want to get in to trouble with the league after only one game.

In the 95th minute, Aparicio took a professional foul to break up a counter with an intentional handball. The second yellow saw the York 9 captain sent off, though there was only one more kick of the ball before the final whistle.

A Festival For the Game

All parties were delighted at the occasion — the chance for the CPL to kick off in style, with a large crowd (despite the cold). Smyrniotis called the spectacle a “great festival for the game” and Brennan was quick to agree. Excitement is building for the upcoming season, and with a point for each team in the books, it looks like the Spring Season will be a tough challenge for all teams.

The support at the game was fantastic, and you’d expect there to be a similar turnout of away fans at the two teams next meeting on May 25.