'Looking for a bounce back': York United, Forge hope to reignite playoff push in rivalry clash
TORONTO – There's more than pride on the line in tonight's edition of the 905 Derby.
With the 2022 season nearing the midway mark, Forge FC and York United enter York Lions Stadium looking for a crucial three points, for drastically different reasons.
The Hammers are looking to force their way back into the top three conversation, comforted by the three games they have in hand on third-place Pacific FC. Meanwhile, the Nine Stripes sit second-last in the standings, and are trying desparately to salvage their 2022 campaign and string a few results together.
York seemed ready to make waves after defeating Forge 1-0 the first time these two Ontario rivals met in the 2022 season, a result that came off the back of a 2-2 draw against Atletico Ottawa, and a 2-0 win over Cavalry. As bright a start as you'd like, then.
But since then, the club has gone winless in their next eight consecutive matches.
"Beating Forge and Cavalry early in the season, we did step up," head coach Martin Nash said, ahead of this next meeting with the Hamiltonian outfit. "We have that ability. I'm looking for a bounce back, to see a reaction from the guys – a real collective effort."
GOAL 👑@YorkUtdFC open the scoring late in this #905Derby clash vs. @ForgeFCHamilton as Sebastian Gutierrez carves apart the backline and dances around the 'keeper 🕺#CanPL | 🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/REuDgHdKeD— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) May 7, 2022
While York looks to sort out their season, Forge FC goalkeeper Triston Henry still remembers that loss heading into this next encounter.
He's confident those mistakes have since been ironed out, though.
"We've developed a lot since that game," Henry told OneSoccer. "That was a game that we played well in, where (head coach) Bobby Smyrniotis said we did a lot of good things and a lot of nothing at the same time."
He added: "It shows the importance of the game for both teams tonight. It will help us get back to the top, and York is pushing for a playoff spot. For both teams, it's massive tonight."
Forge FC enter this 15th edition of the 905 Derby in a unique position. This team is used to sitting comfortably in the top spots of the CPL standings. What they're not used to is battling to stay above the playoff line.
"We probably didn't expect this because we always have that ambition to be at the top," Henry said, of his team's early-season fortunes. "Whether it's injuries or whatnot... it's a long season.
"But, it goes until October. This league isn't won or lost in July. So, we've got lots of time here."
INCREDIBLE SAVE⚒️— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) June 12, 2022
Triston Henry makes a wonderful save on a break from @Pacificfccpl to hold the lead for @ForgeFCHamilton at 2-0!🔥⚽️#CanPL | Watch Live | 🔴 https://t.co/7JFAUhgjL6 pic.twitter.com/wI600cMpnR
While York hasn't lived up to their billing so far this season, other clubs in the league have certainly turned heads. Cavalry FC has emerged as a dominant force; champions Pacific FC remain as potent as ever, despite losing the likes of Kadin Chung, Lukas MacNaughton, Alessandro Hojabrpour and Terran Campbell over the off-season; Atletico Ottawa has emerged as a new contender for the CPL title under the guidance of new manager Carlos Gonzalez.
Any pressure, then?
"You look back at the first year, we also started off slow," Henry pointed out. "Cavalry was ahead of us most of the year and we ended up as champions.
"There is no rush. The goal is to get into a top four spot and perform in the playoffs."