Match Preview — Pacific FC vs. Forge FC: Tridents look to send defending champs packing at Starlight
Canadian Premier League

2024 CPL Regular Season — Match #18
Pacific FC vs. Forge FC
May 11, 2024 at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET

Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia
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Two of the Canadian Premier League’s in-form teams meet on Vancouver Island on Saturday afternoon, as Pacific FC host Forge FC at Starlight Stadium.

The Tridents enter matchday five of the 2024 CPL season tied atop the Canadian Premier League table with Atlético Ottawa, on ten points through four matches, and have yet to concede a goal in league play. They will face arguably their toughest test yet on Saturday, up against a red-hot Forge side that has scored seven goals in three league matches thus far, and added four more across two Canadian Championship games.

Forge, who are off to the best start to a season in their incredibly successful club history, are playing confident, clinical football at the moment, but coming up against a stingy Pacific backline will provide a tough challenge.

Both Forge and Pacific were also involved in the Canadian Championship midweek, and both drew the first legs of their respective quarter-finals. Forge put in a strong performance against MLS side CF Montreal at Tim Hortons Field on Tuesday — drawing 1-1 in front of nearly 15,000 fans on the club’s first-ever School Day Match — while Pacific went to the nation’s capital and played out a 0-0 draw at TD Place on Wednesday night.

There may be some tired legs, as Pacific only travelled back to Ontario on Thursday before a recovery day on Friday, but the Tridents will receive a bit of a boost in the player availability department. Pierre Lamothe and Ayman Sellouf are both cleared to play on Saturday after dealing with minor injuries, according to James Merriman.

Forge will also be returning to CPL action for the first time since sweeping the April CPL monthly awards. Tristan Borges, who already has two goals and three assists in three matches, won the April Player of the Month, Chris Kalongo won the Allstate Goalkeeper of the Month, and Bobby Smyrniotis picked up the Manager of the Month.

Pacific goalkeeper Emil Gazdov currently leads the league with three clean sheets, and backup Sean Melvin is tied with several others in second place with one clean sheet. Tridents’ midfielder Cédric Toussaint leads the league with 13 tackles, and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère leads all CPL players with 19 clearances already in 2024.

Saturday’s match promises to be a competitive one as both sides look to remain undefeated, and start to create some separation with the teams below them.


  • Both sides looking to stay unbeaten in top-of-the-table clash: Heading into matchday five of the 2024 Canadian Premier League season, three teams remain unbeaten, and two of them meet at Starlight Stadium on Saturday. Pacific FC and Atlético Ottawa have three wins and a draw to begin their league campaigns this season, while Forge has three wins. The Hammers have played one less match as a result of their matchday four game against the Halifax Wanderers being rescheduled due to Forge’s Canadian Championship match against CF Montreal being added to the schedule on short notice, so the Hammers have the maximum nine points from nine. Is this the weekend one of these two red-hot teams suffers their first defeat of the year?


  • Can Pacific extend record clean sheet streak?: One of the biggest factors in Pacific FC’s hot start to the season is the fact that they haven’t allowed a single goal yet in CPL play, becoming the first club in league history to keep four consecutive clean sheets. In fact, the Tridents have only conceded once in six matches in all competitions in 2024, to semi-professional side TSS Rovers in their Canadian Championship preliminary round tie, before drawing 0-0 with Atlético Ottawa in their first quarter-final leg on Wednesday night. Emil Gazdov and Sean Melvin have both looked sharp when splitting duties between the sticks, and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère and Aly Ndom have been two of the brightest spots in a backline that has done very well to protect their own net. Something is going to have to budge eventually, but James Merriman’s side will look to ride this goalless streak for as long as possible, and would be delighted to keep it going against arguably the league’s most in-form attack in Forge FC.


  • How will Forge do on first long-distance road trip of the year?: For the first time this season in CPL action, Forge FC are leaving Southern Ontario as they head to the West Coast to play the Tridents. The reigning North Star Cup champions are off to a great start to 2024, winning all three of their CPL matches thus far, as well as beating York United and tying with MLS side CF Montreal at home in their first two Canadian Championship games of the year. Next, they face their longest domestic road trip, to play a Pacific side that currently sits tied on points atop the table. “We’ve traditionally had some good games out at Starlight Stadium, and it’s the same idea going into Saturday,” said Smyrniotis ahead of this match. “We’re gonna go, we’re gonna play our football, confident football, a lot of respect for the opponent, and we need to make sure that our energy is there.”


Pacific FC wins: 4 || Forge FC wins: 12 || Draws: 2

Last meeting:

September 23, 2023 — Forge FC 3-1 Pacific FC


“[Keeping four clean sheets in a row to start the season] gives us a great foundation to continue to build, and we continue to develop with the ball. It’s been an excellent start defensively for us, as a team we want to continue to build on this, continue to grow on this.” — Pacific FC head coach James Merriman