Good thing it was only a preview of the Canadian Premier League championship series and not the real deal.
Because Cavalry FC will want to forget about Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss to host Forge FC.
“We didn’t show the best version of ourselves,” said Cavalry GM/head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. “And the result was indicative of that.”
Just 10 days before the CPL’s two-game, total-goal finale opens in Hamilton, the two teams in that championship series met for a final time in the regular season before 3,864 fans at Tim Hortons Field.
The result kept the Cavs, winners of the league’s spring season, from securing the CPL’s fall crown.
With an 11-4-3 record, Forge vaults the Cavs to top the fall-season table, on 37 points. But it was the Hamilton side’s final regular-season assignment.
The 10-5-2 Cavs, meanwhile, have one game left to play in a bid to leap-frog Forge and earn the fall title. They have 35 points.
“Now we have to have a short memory, look forward and focus on the next game on Saturday in the regular-season finale at home vs. FC Edmonton in front of our fans at ATCO Field.”
The Al Classico goes kicks off at 2 p.m.
Then it’s the CPL championship to wrap up the inaugural campaign with 1:30 p.m. starts on both Oct. 26 in Hamilton and Nov. 2 at Spruce Meadows.
“This game (Wednesday) should serve us a great reminder that it’s a battle in Hamilton, with the wind tunnel and fast turf conditions something that come October 26th we’ll have to adapt and overcome,” said Wheeldon Jr.
The only goal of the game Wednesday came in the 42nd minute, when substitute David Choiniere tapped in a loose ball misplayed by goalkeeper Marco Carducci and a couple of Cavalry defenders on a pass through the goal box by Kwame Awuah. It was Christopher Nanco’s nifty back-heel pass in the corner of the pitch that set up the play that left the Cavs flat-footed.
Even after Forge went down to 10 men in the 71st minute when Dominic Samuel was assessed a second yellow card during the match for running through Jose Escalante, the Cavs couldn’t find the range for a goal.
But the double-infraction means defender Samuel will likely be suspended for the CPL championship between the clubs.
Escalante had the Cavs best chance to score when the ball fell to him on the rush but his shot — in all alone off the left side on Forge ‘keeper Triston Henry — rose well over the net early in injury time.
“These battles between us and Forge are always closely contested,” said Wheeldon Jr. “We rotated our lineup to manage minutes and suspensions, whilst also not trying to give our hand away for the finals as we looked at some potential options to have up our sleeve.
“However, our sluggish start put us on the back foot and we couldn’t find another gear that we usually have to shift momentum.”