Forge FC thoroughly dominated another match, this time getting the result they deserved as they defeated Valour FC by two goals.
Forge FC press, Valour FC no obvious out ball
Captain Kyle Bekker returned to the side and Forge FC continued to rotate players as Marcel Zajac and Daniel Kreutzen received starts on the left side for the visitors.
Rob Gale played with a back four, perhaps to counter Forge’s dynamic attack, but they were simply unable to deal with Forge’s pressing when in possession. The problem with this shape was that it made it even easier for Forge to press the hosts. While theoretically this should have left a centre back for Valour free, there was no obvious forward pass. The 4-2-3-1 formation put Louis Beland-Goyette further away from the back line and didn’t allow him, or Dylan Sarcamento, to easily offer an outlet.
When Valour win the ball in their end, Forge immediately try to win the ball back
While Forge’s pressing was effective to prevent Valour’s attacks, the best source of Forge’s own attack was their counter pressing. Many times when losing the ball deep in their opponents’ half, the Hamilton outfit would immediately press the hosts and win the ball in advantageous positions. They did not do this all match, however, and were also happy to retreat into a rigid 4-1-4-1 when it was deemed necessary.
Skylar Thomas’ inability to pass forward compounds Valour’s problems
We have discussed Thomas’ strengths and limitations defensively when defending in space versus defending the box, but another big limitation was exposed in this match: his distribution. While Thomas actually strode forward impressively a couple of times to solve problems when being pressed effectively, he misplaced multiple forward passes, sometimes with little pressure on him. This was most apparent in the 33rd minute when he misplaced two passes in a row deep in his own half which led to a dangerous chance. Eventually he was punished in the second half when a poor pass was intercepted by the impressive Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson and played to Tristan Borges, who scored Forge’s second goal.
While Thomas had a poor game with the ball, he wasn’t put in a position to succeed. Valour FC played an expansive shape and didn’t give Thomas, or Jordan Murrell, obvious out balls when they had the ball deep in their half. The shape was one culprit, but so was the individual play of Beland-Goyette and Sacramento, who did not show enough desire to drop deep and help in the first phase of build up.
Forge FC have probably played the best soccer of any team this spring, even beyond the undefeated Cavalry FC. However, the results have not been kind to them, in part due to poor individual defending and bad finishing. Against Valour they were able to shelter the former by starting their defending high up the pitch. They have a glut of gifted attackers, including the most dynamic player in the league so far in Borges, so if they can synthesize their pressing as a defending and attacking tactic they can push themselves to the next level.
One of the most interesting, and effective, aspects of Valour’s game so far this season was their ability to get a number of players in the active playing area. Their compact shape helped get multiple men around the ball which allowed for intricate interplay in offense while providing a compact shape defensively. Against Forge, however, their inability to connect the different lines offensively was their biggest problem. The addition of Marcos Bustos has given them their best play maker, but they need to figure out how to get him the ball in dangerous places with other players around him.