It took more than two years to declare a winner, but the 2020 edition of the Canadian Championship was finally awarded as Toronto FC won their record-breaking eighth Voyageurs Cup by defeating Forge FC 5-4 in penalties on Saturday at Tim Hortons Field.

“You’ve got guys here who were still here in 2020,” TFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “For the club, for the supporters, the history of TFC in this last stretch, to be able to add to it today, those are all great.”

Both teams played to a 1-1 score through 90 minutes in front of 13,715 fans in Hamilton. TFC won the game 5-4 on penalties when Forge defender Kwasi Poku hit the crossbar on his team’s final attempt during sudden death.

Forge FC was the first Canadian Premier League team to take part in the final of a Canadian Championship. They had pushed the pace of play for much of the match and battled with the Major League Soccer club until the end.

“It was a very good performance from our guys,” said Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis. “It’s tough for this evening, but if you perform like this you win a lot of games.”

Alejandro Pozeulo opened the scoring in the 57th minute for Toronto FC after his shot from inside the box sailed just past the hand of Forge FC keeper Triston Henry.

The Hammers didn’t waste any time in finding an equalizer.

Tristan Borges took a pass from Aboubacar Sissoko while inside the box and beat TFC keeper Quentin Westberg in the top right corner in the 60th minute to tie the match 1-1.

“That was the goal I think we deserved,” Borges said. “We had been knocking on the door for quite a while.”

Missed scoring opportunities

Forge FC nearly took the lead in the 70th minute when Terran Campbell’s breakaway chance was stopped by Westberg.

Jordan Perruzza had one of Toronto FC’s best chances late in the second half. His header from the centre of the box was saved by Henry in the 80th minute.

Both teams traded chances in the dying minutes as both teams loosened from their tight formations, which led to more end-to-end play.

The teams went straight to penalties following injury time.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced changes to the 2020 edition and several postponements.

On Aug. 13, 2020, the Canadian Soccer Association announced revisions to the championship to involve a final between one Canadian Premier League team and one Canadian Major League Soccer club.

A proposed makeup date in early 2021 was contested by Forge FC owner Bob Young, who posted an open letter on his Twitter account on March 6, 2021, stating his team was at a disadvantage due to local pandemic restrictions at the time.

Two days later, Toronto FC announced that the club suspended training due to multiple members of the team testing positive for COVID-19 and the game was postponed to 2022. Toronto FC represented Canada in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League tournament while 2020 CPL champion Forge FC was awarded the right to host the makeup game.

It was the first time both clubs have played in a professional competition against each other.

Forge FC started the match strong and had multiple chances to break the game open. Midfielder David Choinere had several scoring chances on Toronto FC in the first half and drew a foul in the penalty area when Toronto FC defender Luca Petrasso shoved him down in the 20th minute. Borges, who took the penalty awarded to Forge, hit the crossbar on the ensuing opportunity.

Borges’ also had a free kick opportunity in the seventh minute and his shot was heading to the left side of the goal before Westberg got there in time to punch the ball out of harm’s way.

Toronto FC’s best scoring chance in the opening half came in the 26th minute. Lukas MacNaughton’s header from the centre of the box was saved by Henry.

The Hammers led in shots on target 4-2 over Toronto in the first half.

The Canadian Premier League missed out having one of its clubs win the Canadian Championship by a mere penalty kick. But the league’s lone representative in the 2022 edition of the tournament, York United, is right back in action in the semifinals against the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 22.

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