Forge FC to play CONCACAF Champions League play-in match Tuesday in Honduras

·2 min read

TORONTO — Hamilton's Forge FC looks to book its ticket to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday against CD Marathon in Honduras.

The matchup for the play-in game was determined last week when Forge and Marathon both lost their quarterfinal matches in the CONCACAF League, a 22-team competition that serves as a feeder tournament for the confederation's elite club tournament.

On Friday, CONCACAF confirmed the dates and venues for the two play-in matches.

Forge will meet Marathon at the 35,000-seat Estadio Tiburcio Carias in Tegucigalpa — the Honduran capital. Nicaragua's Real Esteli FC will travel to Tegucigalpa to face Honduran side FC Motagua in the other play-in match Wednesday.

The play-in match winners will join the four CONCACAF League semifinalists — Costa Rica's LD Alajuelense and Deportivo Saprissa, Honduras's CD Olimpia and Haiti's Arcahaie FC — in the 2021 Champions League field.

Arcahaie defeated Forge in a penalty shootout on Tuesday in quarterfinal play in the Dominican Republic. The Canadian Premier League champions, whose domestic season wrapped up Sept.19, had previously won CONCACAF League matches in El Salvador and Panama.

Forge is bidding to become the first team in the fledgling CPL to qualify for the Champions League.

Marathon has made it five times (2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2019), reaching the Champions League quarterfinals in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

The Honduras side, founded in 1925, topped its group in 2008-09, beating out Mexico's Cruz Azul, Costa Rica's Saprissa and MLS's D.C. United. The next year, it defeated Mexico's Toluca en route to the final eight.

Forge will also have a chance at Champions League qualification via the Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC, slated for the first quarter of 2021.

There is no word yet on what happens to the Champions League berth on offer in the Canadian Championship final if Forge wins in Honduras next week.

“CONCACAF remains in discussions with Canada Soccer and will provide an update in due course,” a CONCACAF spokesman said.

The 2021 CONCACAF Champions League field also already includes Mexico's CF Monterrey, Club America, Club Leon and Cruz Azul, the MLS's Philadelphia Union (Supporters' Shield winner) and Portland Timbers (MLS is Back Tournament winner) and Club Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic.

The MLS Cup winner will also secure a berth.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press