Toronto FC beat Forge FC on penalties to win delayed Voyageurs Cup

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HAMILTON — Forge FC threw everything at Toronto FC but the anvil.

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The Canadian Premier League side put in a massive effort against TFC on Saturday night at Tim Hortons Field, but it was the Reds who emerged victorious in the 2020 Canadian Championship final – a match that was delayed for two years in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. .

In front of 13,715 spectators on a perfect late spring night at The Hammer, the two teams battled to a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation time, with Toronto winning the 2020 Voyageurs Cup on penalties.

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Alejandro Pozuelo scored for TFC and Tristan Borges for Forge in regulation time.

Both teams have converted four times in the first five shots on goal. Kosi Thompson took the sixth kick for Toronto and converted, his right-footed shot going into the bottom right corner behind Forge keeper Triston Henry. Kwasi Poku took Forge’s sixth penalty and left-footed it over the crossbar, giving Toronto the title, much to the dismay of the crestfallen Forge faithful.

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Quentin Westberg held on for the Reds in the game, making a number of huge saves in regulation time and a big save on former TFC player Kyle Bekker in the penalty shootout.

“That’s the cruelty of this beautiful game,” Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis said. “That’s why we love it and that’s why a lot of people who were sitting in the stands today are leaving very entertained and it’s a great night for Canadian soccer, although it’s obviously not not what Forge wanted.

“Coming here against Forge is always going to be tough. They’re a good team, they have experience,” added TFC coach Bob Bradley. “As has been the case for us throughout the year, there are times when our football is going well, there are other times when we lose control. We are always trying to become a more cohesive team that can sustain some of the good football for longer. But while we’re working on that, we have to have the mentality to stick together and find ways (to win). »

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What they did on Saturday night.

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The victory gave TFC its first trophy since 2018 and a record eighth Canadian championship. The Reds have a chance to claim a second Voyageurs Cup this year when they take on CF Montreal in the semi-finals of the 2022 Canadian Championship on June 22 at BMO Field, with the final set to be played in July.

Forge FC, the first LPC team to qualify for a Canadian Championship final, played with passion and courage and at times were the best team on the field, especially in the first half. TFC held a 54-46 per cent advantage in ball possession although Forge recorded 18 shots on 11 for Toronto with eight on target while the Reds managed five on goal.

Pozuelo, who was a wizard for Toronto throughout the game, opened the scoring in the second half with a fine goal in the 57th minute when he picked up a pass from Ayo Akinola just outside the middle of the box and kicked it left-footed into the top left corner, just out of reach of a diving Henry.

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Forge tied the game three minutes later on a goal from Borges, who went unmarked from the left side of Toronto’s penalty area and fired a left-footed shot into the top right corner, the assist going to Aboubacar Sissoko.

The TFC were missing a number of players, including veteran midfielder Jonathan Osorio – who has a lower leg injury revealed by an MRI, although it’s something minor. There is no timetable for the Canada international’s return and Bradley will hope Osorio can recover during the international break.

Veteran defensemen Shane O’Neill (concussion protocol) and Chris Mavinga (lower body injury) are still injured and have yet to return to team practice. Midfielder Noble Okello is also injured and is unlikely to return.

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Both teams battled to a 0-0 draw in the first half. Both teams had good scoring chances, although the Steelers probably had the better chances with Westberg leading.

Forge had the best chance early on, in the seventh minute, when Borges fired a free-kick about five yards outside the center of the box, forcing Westberg into a superb save forward to his left. From the start of the match, Forge went on the attack. In the 10th minute, after a gift from Carlos Salcedo, Westberg had to make a nice save on David Choinière de la Forge.

Akinola was brought down in the 13th minute just outside the box for a Toronto free kick. Pozuelo fired a shot which was blocked. Right after that, Choinière charged down the right side of the field and Westberg made another good save on Choinière’s right foot.

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Forge missed a great chance to take the lead in the 19th minute when Toronto’s Luca Petrasso brought down Choinière in the box (and was shown a yellow card). Choinière kicked the left kick off the crossbar, much to the chagrin of the Forge faithful.

Forge keeper Henry got up for the home side in the 26th minute when he made a fine save from another MacNaughton header.

Westberg made the best save of the first half when he rushed down his right to stop Forge striker Terran Campbell from close range with around seven minutes left in the half.

Michael Bradley almost joined Akinola with a long pass inside the Forge box to start the second half, but Henry just beat Akinola to the ball.

After both teams scored in the second half, Forge almost took the lead in the 70th minute when Campbell got a breakaway and Westberg made a huge save from close range.

Pozuelo fed Jesus Jimenez with a pass in the center of the box and Jimenez headed it straight at Henry in the 80th minute for a TFC chance.

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