CPL Island Games: Forge FC strong favorites to win

Editorial — With the Canadian Premier League Island Games set to kick off on Thursday, Forge FC should consider themselves strong favorites to win out.

After an incredibly successful first season which saw the club raise the inaugural North Star Shield as league playoff champions, Forge FC should look to follow up on their success.

Consistency in the Squad

With everything that has occurred in 2020 leading up to the Island Games, consistency and normalcy have been hard to come by. From league players tweeting at journalists asking if there was going to be a season, a search for a neutral site, and the eventual announcement of the PEI-based tournament, the Canadian Premier League’s sophomore season has been beset by problems.

Forge FC, though, have changed very little since their title-winning match in November of 2019. As Cavalry proved in their romp to a Spring season title, consistency is key. Forge FC will be without 2019 Golden Boot and Player of the Season winner Tristan Borges. However, the club’s starting XI remains otherwise intact. Borges moved to OH Leuven in the Belgian second tier as the first overseas sale from the CPL. Leuven has since been promoted to the Belgian top flight.

Backup goalkeeper Quillan Roberts (nine appearances) was let go, as was young striker Jace Kotsopolous, who is now with York 9 FC. Central defender Bertrand Owundi had 26 appearances but saw his playtime dip with the arrival of David Edgar. Giuliano Frano also left the club by mutual consent, choosing to step away from the game to operate an online coaching platform based in Mississauga. Frano provided depth and versatility that could be missed over the course of the Island Games tournament.


New Signings Bolster the Squad

Even with the departure of the league MVP, Forge look set to be even better than they were last season. Highly touted prospect Paolo Sabak should fill Borges’ creative boots admirably and chip in with a few goals. Sabak, formerly of Genk in Belgium and NEC Nijmegen in the Dutch second tier, worked with assistant coach Peter Reynders in Belgium.

Forge also added two players with MLS experience in Maxim Tissot and Molham Babouli. Tissot brings cover in the left back position, and might allow Forge FC fan favorite Kwame Awuah to move around the pitch. Awuah, who had five assists last season, has played in central midfield as well as at left wing. Tissot won a championship with teammate Kyle Bekker at San Francisco Deltas of the NASL in 2017.

Babouli should replace some of Borges’ goal threat. The 27 year-old Canadian impressed in his debut season with Toronto FC II and earned himself some time with the MLS side. Babouli has represented Canada at the U-23 level and was a member of Bobby Smyrniotis’ Sigma FC. The attacker can play all across the front positions and provides good finishing ability in the 18 yard box. 

Outlook: Forge Favorites to Win

Going into the first match of the Island Games, Forge should consider themselves favorites to take the tournament by storm. As defending champions, the tournament may be their only chance to defend their title against CPL opposition this season.

The Island Games kicks off with a marquee “made for television event” featuring a rematch of last year’s finals. Cavalry FC and Forge face off to open the tournament on Thursday, with the daytime match being moved to 8pm ET. There had been some significant backlash from fans about the midday kickoff. The game airs on OneSoccer, as well as on CBC.

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