York United FC plays against Forge Hamilton FC during CPL soccer action at York Lions Stadium in Toronto on Friday, July 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

CPL champion Forge FC defeats El Salvador’s CD FAS in CONCACAF League opener

CPL champion Forge FC defeats El Salvador’s CD FAS in CONCACAF League opener

CPL champion Forge FC defeats El Salvador’s CD FAS in CONCACAF League opener

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Canadian Premier League champion Forge FC opened its Scotiabank CONCACAF League campaign Thursday with a comfortable 3-1 victory over El Salvador’s CD FAS.

Tristan Borges, Mo Babouli and David Choiniere scored for Hamilton-based Forge in the first leg of the preliminary round. Erivan Flores replied for CD FAS.

Play was suspended in the 85th minute after lights went out in the empty Estadio Cuscatlan. The players went to the sidelines for a water break then started running, stretching or kicking a ball about to kill time while waiting for the lights to come back on. Play resumed after some 20 minutes with the remaining five minutes plus another five minutes of stoppage time.

The 22-team competition is a feeder tournament that sends six clubs to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the flagship club competition in the region that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The second leg is next Tuesday, at the same stadium, due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Forge was without head coach Bobby Smyrniotis and captain Kyle Bekker, both suspended after being red-carded in December’s CONCACAF Champions League play-in loss to Honduras’ CD Marathon.

Assistant coach Kyt Selaidopoulos ran the team in Smyrniotis’ absence.

Borges, off a Babouli feed, opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a long-range left-footed shot that may have taken a slight deflection off a defender’s leg. Flores tied it up six minutes later, poking in the ball after a corner delivery found its way to him through a mass of bodies.

Babouli and Borges combined again in the 25th minute after acting skipper Kwame Awuah found Borges with a perfect low cross. The unmarked Borges’ unselfish pass went through a defender to Babouli, who slotted it home.

soccer