Hamilton’s Forge FC draws 12-time Mexican champion Chivas in CONCACAF Champions Cup
Published December 15, 2023 at 8:45 am
The Canadian Premier League’s most successful club will have their hands full in the first round of the CONCACAF Champions Cup, drawing Chivas Guadalajara – the most successful team in Mexican history – with the home-and-home series being contested this February.
Forge FC of Hamilton, which won the North Star Cup at Tim Horton’s Field in October on a spectacular Olimpico by Tristan Borges in extra time against Cavalry – a strike voted goal of the year for the 2023 season – has been the league’s biggest success story since the CPL begin play in 2019 with four championships in five years and losing in the 2021 final to Pacific FC in the other.
Nearly 14,000 fans packed Tim Horton’s final for the CPL final and Forge averaged 5,318 fans per game this season, one of the tops attendance records in the league.
The club will need all those voices in the Champions Cup draw against Chivas, which has won a record 12 Mexican titles and is also a two-time champion of the Champions League, winning the first tournament in 1962 and again in 2018 against Toronto FC, which made a historic appearance in the final that year.
TFC beat Tigres, another Mexican club, in the quarter-finals that season and the defending Mexican champion will play Canadian Champion Vancouver Whitecaps in another tough draw. Cavalry will play MLS club Orlando City in the other draw involving Canadian teams.
The competition crowns the club champion of North and Central America and the Caribbean with the winner representing the region at the new, expanded FIFA Club World Cup.
The revamped CONCACAF tournament features 27 teams, with 22 opening play in the first of five rounds.
The first round of the Champions Cup will be played in February, followed by the round of 16 in March, quarterfinals and semifinals in April and the final on June 2.
The first four rounds will be home-and-away series with the final decided via a single-elimination game.
Forge previously competed in the now-defunct second-tier CONCACAF League (in 2019, 2020 and 2021) and the CONCACAF Champions League last season.
Mexico’s Club Leon won the CONCACAF Champions League in June, defeating Los Angles FC 3-1 on aggregate. The Whitecaps made it to the quarterfinals, losing 6-0 to LAFC.
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