Henry Heroics earn Forge FC CONCACAF League Win

Hamilton, Ontario — Triston Henry stood on his head to help earn Forge FC a Round of 16 CONCACAF League win. With Honduran side C.D. Olimpia in Hamilton, Bobby Smyrniotis’ side set up for a tough challenge.

Forge were considered the underdogs heading into the match. Olimpia are 30-time Honduran League champions and winners of the 2017 edition of the CONCACAF League.

Edgar Makes First Start

New signing David Edgar made his first start for Forge, anchoring a new-look backline. Edgar looked assured on the night, though he wasn’t quite match fit. Speaking to media after the match, Smyrniotis said that injuries pressed Edgar into service from the start. The 32-year-old handled his responsibilities well and played a veteran’s game. Edgar’s passing range was on display throughout the first half, connecting long passes up to Chris Nanco and Anthony Novak.

The Olimpia XI featured a few familiar faces to MLS fans. Former Vancouver Whitecaps players Johnny Leveron and Deybi Flores started alongside Ever Alvarado, who played for Sporting Kansas City in 2016. Former New England Revolution striker Jerry Bengston also plays for the club. However, he did not make the trip to Hamilton. Cristian Maidana, who most recently featured with the Houston Dynamo, was on the bench.

Starting Well

Despite Olimpia being favored to win the match, Forge FC came out of the blocks with a lot of intensity. Giuliano Frano controlled the midfield, breaking up plays and springing the early counterattack that led to the opening goal. Chris Nanco slid the ball past the Olimpia keeper in the 4th minute to give the home side the early lead.

Forge kept the pressure up and nearly doubled their lead. Kyle Bekker hit a sweet shot that rattled the frame of the goal. Meanwhile, Novak had a pair of chances later in the game.

Henry Steals the Show

Although Forge had the better of the early stages of the match, Olimpia put a lot of pressure on the home side as the game wore on. That pressure eventually led to a Giuliano Frano yellow card for a challenge in the box, and a penalty to the visitors.

Olimpia captain Ever Alvarado stepped up to take the penalty. However, Triston Henry got down well to save and preserve Forge’s lead.

Then, Henry came up big again just a few moments later, with a line-breaking pass leading to a great chance. The Forge goalkeeper got a toe on the ball to deflect it onto the post.

Meanwhile, Forge sat deeper and defended more cohesively in the second half. As Novak tired and was eventually substituted, the home side lacked an outlet to hold possession farther up the pitch. Although they managed a few chances on the counterattack, the visitors really put Forge under pressure for the better part of 70 minutes. Fortunately for the home side, their defense and goalkeeper managed to keep them ahead.

Henry’s heroics earned him the Man of the Match award. Meanwhile, Forge head into Honduras next Thursday for the second leg.

A Different Atmosphere

Although a trip to Tegucigalpa and the Estadio Nacional is normally a harrowing prospect for any team, Forge will be heading into a unique situation. After violence erupted prior to a match between Olimpia and Montagua sanctions were passed down. The second leg is to be played behind closed doors.

Stuck in between the Forge CONCACAF League fixtures is a big match against Cavalry in the Canadian Premier League. Cavalry currently sit on top of the table, with Forge two points behind. Forge chased Cavalry throughout the spring season and ended up finishing in second. Meanwhile, the four previous games between the two sides have been excellent, and Sunday’s match should add to the growing history between the teams.

Smyrniotis made it clear that the club focuses on one match at a time. However, with CONCACAF League in the background now, Sunday’s match certainly draws everyone’s full attention. Most importantly, the coach will want another good performance from his side.

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