It is the classic sporting plotline of the cagey defending champion showing it will not give up its crown to the upstart heir apparent without a fight.
Two-time defending Canadian Premier League champion Forge FC defeated league-leading Pacific FC 2-1 in a marquee match-up Saturday at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont.
Three of the four losses this season by PFC (10-4-6) have come against Forge FC (10-7-1), which is 3-0 this season against the Island club, and undefeated all-time against the Tridents at 8-0-1.
“They have our number,” said PFC head coach Pa-Modou Kah, who continues looking for his first victory against Forge FC.
“Sometimes a team has your number. Sometimes it happens. We have to figure it out. If I had the answer, I’d be a billionaire. We took this one on the chin and now we have to have goldfish memories and move forward.”
Forge FC opened the scoring at six minutes through Molham Babouli. PFC levelled at 37 minutes on a bang-bang cross and header from Kunle Dada-Luke to Alejandra Diaz for the latter’s seventh goal of the season. Former Canada U-17 player Dada-Luke continued his recent fine form.
“[Dada-Luke] is getting an opportunity and that’s good for our team,” said Diaz, who has represented Mexico in U-20 and U-23 and has played in his home country’s highest league.
Omar Browne’s goal at 80 minutes, in his first game for Forge FC, won it for the hosts. Browne, capped 10 times for Panama and who will be facing Canada in the next section of games in CONCACAF World Cup 2022 qualifying, is on loan from CA Independiente of Panama’s top league. Browne took a fabulous cross to tap home the winner.
“It was a good game as, traditionally, all our games against PFC have been entertaining and good football,” said Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis, who is preparing his club for this week’s Round of 16 in the CONCACAF Champions League qualifying round, a perk of being defending CPL champion.
“We play good football against Pacific, including in past seasons, and that’s just how the results go.”
PFC lost for the first time since Aug. 20 in going 5-0-2 in its last seven games, including five in league and two in the Canadian Championship.
“We were lacking a bit at the beginning,” said Diaz, of Forge’s early goal.
“We’ve had a lot of games in a short period. Sometimes you lose. That’s the game. We need to keep working hard if we play Forge in the playoffs.”
Pacific FC meets Valour FC on Wednesday at IG Field in Winnipeg.
• Meanwhile, there has been no announcement from Canada Soccer on the date and venue of Canadian Championship semifinal between PFC and Toronto FC of Major League Soccer.