BREAKING NEWS : Toronto FC shifts its focus to the Canadian Championship in an attempt to help Forge reach the semifinals.

In the midst of a terrible league winless streak, Toronto FC has the opportunity to start over.

On Wednesday night, TFC will change their strategy when they travel to Hamilton to play the first leg of their Canadian Championship semifinal matchup against Forge FC of the Canadian Premier League. The struggling Reds might use a change of scenery on game day, but head coach John Herdman knows his hosts can be tough opponents.

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After his side’s defeat in Columbus, Herdman told the reporters, “It’s an exciting opportunity against a good team in Forge who have already put Montréal out of the competition.” “It means they possess the ability to defeat MLS teams.”

Herdman expressed his admiration for Forge to the media following practice on Tuesday, mentioning their successes in CONCACAF play as well as the Canadian Championship, as well as their capacity to turn Tim Hortons Field into a stronghold.

“You have a group of experienced individuals at your disposal who can effectively assemble a team to close the qualitative advantages through cohesion, strategy, and camaraderie,” Herdman stated. “We must be prepared for that.

“We are aware that these will be intense. We can be certain that they will be strategically arranged. We are aware that they will be well-rested and playing at home on a turf pitch with an enthusiastic fan base. We must accept that, feel enthusiastic about it, and know exactly what our goal is before we enter Hamilton.

With several injuries and international absences, Herdman’s team has already nine games without a victory and is thinly staffed. It is not improving. The head coach of TFC revealed on Tuesday that midfielder Derrick Etienne Jr. and defender Nicksoen Gomis are both doubtful to play in Wednesday’s game following injuries they sustained during Saturday’s 4-0 loss in Columbus.Nicksoen Gomis - Player profile 2024 | Transfermarkt

Herdman is exercising prudence when choosing his starting lineup for Saturday’s crucial home match against Philadelphia Union, especially in light of the fact that a return leg will take place in late August regardless of what transpires in Hamilton.

Herdman’s prior remarks regarding his desire to keep his top attacker healthy for games at BMO Field make it seem unlikely that Lorenzo Insigne will start the game given that Tim Hortons Field has a turf playing surface.

Goalie Luka Gavran will likely continue to start in goal after appearing in the first two rounds of the cup, despite Herdman’s desire to keep details about his starting team on Wednesday private. Gavran, who is from Hamilton, said it will be pleasant to perform in front of his friends and family in his hometown.

Forge believes that this is the ideal moment to launch a “cupset” against the club across the street. With a record eight Voyageurs Cups under their belt, TFC is vulnerable due to their poor play and long list of injuries, therefore Forge will be eager to make a statement against the team.

Head coach Bobby Smyrniotis of Forge, who is seen as the underdog in Wednesday’s MLS vs. CPL match, isn’t necessarily viewing the match as a David versus. Goliath contest. He is urging the Hammers to approach the tie with confidence given what they have accomplished since the CPL’s founding.

Forge’s head coach Bobby Smyrniotis isn’t necessarily seeing the match as a David versus. Goliath battle, even though his team is the underdog against the CPL on Wednesday. In light of their achievements since the CPL’s inception, he is advising the Hammers to approach the tie with confidence.

There has only been one prior meeting between these two parties. That match was the postponed 2020 Canadian Championship Final, which took place in June 2022. With a 1-1 score, the Reds, led by previous head coach Bob Bradley, prevailed on penalties.

Since then, a lot has changed, especially for Toronto FC, and the Forge camp believes they have what it takes to defeat their opponent this time.

Kwasi Poku, a young player currently at Forge, was part of the squad for that thrilling Tim Hortons Field penalty shootout just over two years ago, along with eleven other players. Kwasi Poku was once a member of Toronto FC’s academy. He thinks that Forge may have an advantage this time around because of the experience his team has amassed in pivotal games over the last few years and Smyrniotis’s dependability.

On Tuesday, Poku spoke exclusively to Waking The Red. “We have a group that’s been in big games and we have people that have played at higher levels.” “We have been in high-pressure situations, so even our young players have more experience than other young players. We will just use that knowledge and experience to execute,” the coach said.

Forge finally overcame CF Montréal this year, emerging victorious over two legs with a 2-1 victory at Stade Saputo in the second leg of their quarterfinal match. CF Montréal had eliminated Forge from three consecutive tournaments. Forge’s team has gained confidence from that victory going into their next test against MLS opponents.

Poku declared, “That was definitely a big win for us.” We had never done it before, so being able to accomplish it gives us the confidence to try it again and prove to ourselves that we are capable of defeating MLS teams, which is what we want to accomplish tomorrow.

Despite the fact that Forge is optimistic about their chances in their rematch with Toronto FC, defender Malik Owolabi-Belewu is concerned about the threat that the team’s elite players could bring.

“They have a star-studded attack,” the Englishman said on Tuesday to Waking The Red. “Their top three players—Insigne, Bernardeschi, and even Prince Owusu—are all excellent athletes who have excelled in competition. When Italy defeated England in the 2021 European Championship, Bernardeschi broke my heart the last time I saw him play in Europe.

They are the kind of players who can completely alter the course of the game, so you should definitely be ready for it.

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