Preview: Canadian Championship Quarter-Final Stage
The curtains will rise on the quarter-final stage of the 2022 Canadian Championship tonight, with two tantalizing cup matches set to unfold this evening and another pair set for tomorrow.
With three CPL-vs-MLS cup clashes and one all-CPL matchup on the menu, it’s looking likely that midweek drama will be served this week.
Without further ado, here’s a look at all four quarter-final cup matches:
Halifax Wanderers vs Toronto FC
Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 6:00PM EST
Toronto FC has been longing for an away day against CPL opposition in the cup for years now, and this quarter-final tie represents a big opportunity for Halifax to make waves in front of an eager crowd out east.
Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart joked that people will be climbing trees to take in the game, which sees the most successful team in Canadian Championship history arrive as visiting favourites against a Wanderers side that sits in a three-way-tie for third place in league standings.
The Halifax Wanderers will seek to bounce back from their worst-ever home loss over the weekend, but will be buoyed by the fact that they’ve gone toe-to-toe with MLS opposition at their home ground before – and with Toronto FC’s league form leaving room for improvement, the opportunity for an upset could certainly be there.
This will mark the first time Bob Bradley and Stephen Hart will have crossed paths since their time managing the United States and Canadian national teams, respectively.
How the Wanderers defense copes with the likes of Jesus Jimenez and Alejandro Pozuelo remains to be seen, though the east coast side’s in-form striker duo of Samuel Salter and Akeem Garcia might face familiar opposition: with Lukas MacNaughton and Kadin Chung cracking the TFC lineup, there’s some CPL familiarity on the menu.
It’ll also be quite a match to take in for Halifax-born Jacob Shaffelburg, though it remains to be seen if the TFC winger-turned-full-back will dress for the match after missing the last five games through a lower back injury.
Pacific FC vs York United
Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 10:00PM EST
The Nine Stripes will play away to Pacific FC for the second time in just a matter of days, following up a nil-nil league result with the only all-CPL match to be seen in the Canadian Championship quarter-final.
“Both teams probably won’t change a lot, because it’s tough to change a lot in such a short space of time,” said Martin Nash ahead of the clash. “It can help it’s good to show the players the things we did well, and the things we can improve on, so hopefully the things that we can improve on, we do better with in this game.”
The Nine Stripes have had the sturdiest defence seen in the league thus far, with first choice goalkeeper Niko Giantsopoulos now returned from an emergency loan to the Vancouver Whitecaps. With Pacific FC having one of the top offenses in the league, it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top and locks in a spot for the semi-final stage.
York United progressed to the quarter-finals through a penalty shootout against Atletico Ottawa, while Pacific FC earned a bye to this round by virtue of being the reigning CPL champions. Both teams had their cup runs from last year end with away trips to Toronto FC, and will rightly feel like this close-knit cup tie will be an even contest.
Montreal vs Forge FC
Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 7:00PM EST
Current cup holders CF Montreal will enter the tournament by hosting a Forge FC side that forced them into eleven rounds of penalties last year, suggesting that a tantalizing cup match is on the menu for tomorrow.
The current cup holders are firm favourites this year, hosting the contest in the midst of a great run of league form that has seen attacking midfielder Djordje Mihailovic dismantle many an opposition defence.
Forge has been off to a slower start this season, though a tightly-packed league table saw them jump from seventh to second after a rejuvenating 4-0 win over the Halifax Wanderers, before results from other teams dropped them back to fifth.
Still, it’s a tall task for Forge to step into Stade Saputo and secure a result – but with these two teams being the only Canadian clubs to enjoy Champions League competition this year, it should be quite the cup tilt for the neutral.
Regardless of the result, this won’t be Forge’s last cup game of the year: the hammers will host a much-belated 2020 Canadian Championship Final against Toronto FC next month, too.
Cavalry FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps
Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at 9:00PM EST
The quarter-final stage of the Canadian Championship will close with a curious cup tie between two teams who’ve faced eachother before: Cavalry FC made history in 2019 by being the first CPL team to beat MLS opposition, knocking the Whitecaps out through a two-legged affair in the third qualifying round.
This is the only match with teams that both played in the opening round, with the Whitecaps finally beating a CPL side after hosting Valour, and Cavalry coming out ahead in an Al Classico bout against FC Edmonton.
Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side have had a tough go of injuries thus far, but remain undefeated at home in 2022, having also held the ‘Caps to a draw there back in 2019.
With former VWFC goalkeeper Marco Carducci in net, it’ll be interesting to see how the hosts perform against MLS opposition this year. Vanni Sartini won’t take the match lightly, having seen his predecessor sacked after a cup loss to Pacific last year.
The MLS side will be looking to shake off the shadow of a wobbly reputation against CPL teams, though it’s fair to say they still enter as favourites in the cup tie.
It remains to be seen if VWFC goalkeepers Cody Cropper or Isaac Boehmer will be back after missing Sunday’s game through COVID-19 health and safety protocols, with 17-year-old academy product Max Anchor having made his debut in their stead. Should he also feature tomorrow, he’ll be the same age as Marco Carducci was when he made his own cup debut with the ‘Caps back in 2014.