Canadian Championship: Six Interesting Potential Matchups
The 2023 Canadian Championship draw was made, with the 14 teams’ paths to the Voyageurs’ Cup now known.
As expected, the Vancouver Whitecaps will have a tough time in defending their title following their penalty shootout success last summer against Toronto FC. Across the 13 matches in this year’s tournament, there are already several storylines that can be written.
With that in mind, here are six tasty (potential) matchups that could take place.
Vancouver FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps: Quarter-Finals
Kicking things off is a possible all-Vancouver quarter-final meeting. Last year’s holders get a first round bye, and will face either York United or Vancouver FC in the last eight.
Should they face the latter, it would mark an incredible local derby between the two-time winners and the CPL’s newest club.
The Whitecaps’ last all-BC affair ended in embarrassment as they fell to Pacific FC back in the 2021 edition at Westhills Stadium. Should they encounter another local matchup in the quarterfinals, maybe, just maybe, lightning could strike twice.
Pacific vs Cavalry: First Round
It will be back-to-back matches at Westhills Stadium for the two squads. After squaring off in the Canadian Championship around April 14-16, the two will re-unite in the CPL just days later.
The former will be the pair’s twenty-first meeting in all competitions. That is the most either side has faced another team in their respective histories. While it may not be seen as a rivalry to many, these two know each other quite well.
With how much they have seen one another, it will seldom surprise many to know that they have faced off in the Canadian Championship before. That meeting came in 2021, where the Tridents prevailed at Spruce Meadows. Terran Campbell scored the lone goal on the day. They also met in the 2019 tournament, where Cavalry progressed 4-1 on aggregate.
Winning this match could open up a solid path to at least the semi-finals. Progression would see the winner face either TSS Rovers or Valour at home. Make no mistake, a massive opportunity awaits both Cavalry and Pacific.
Toronto FC vs CF Montreal: Quarter-Finals
This just had to be mentioned: it seems almost impossible for there to be a Canadian Championship without these two rivals going at it.
Since 2012, there has only been one edition where these two foes did not meet in the tournament itself. That occurred in the 2020 edition, where the format was changed considerably due to the pandemic.
En route to their defeat in last summer’s showpiece, TFC beat up CFM 4-0 at home in the semifinals. That was an act of vengeance, as the Quebec-based side topped their rivals in the 2021 final.
In 18 previous head-to-heads in the Canadian Championship, Toronto FC has the more favourable record at 8-5-5. Bar what would be the biggest upset in tournament history, we are set for yet another clash between the competition’s two most successful teams.
Atletico Ottawa vs Forge: Quarter-Finals
The quarter-finals could very well be the most intriguing round of the tournament ever. Seeing the two who met in last October’s CPL Final meet in the Canadian Championship just six months later would provide for an incredible story-line.
Ottawa fans will want to forget the latest matchup late last year as the Hammers won their third North Star Shield at TD Place. Now, a possible all-Ontario match in the nation’s capital is very intriguing.
In eleven previous meetings, all in the CPL, Forge has dominated. Bobby Smyrniotis’ side has won eight of eleven, losing just once, and conceding only two goals to the CPL’s first ever expansion team.
Ottawa has never even scored at home in five previous efforts against Forge. That will likely have to change if they the sides get past HFX Wanderers and FC Laval respectively and meet in the quarterfinals.
TSS Rovers vs Pacific: Quarter-Finals
The other quarter-final clash that would bring tons of fireworks with it could see the other two BC-based teams facing each other in the last eight.
In what will be their debut in the Canadian Championship, TSS Rovers has a glorious opportunity ahead of them. The League 1 BC champs will welcome Valour to Swangard Stadium in the first round. If they beat their CPL opposition, they could very well meet Pacific away in the next round.
Such a matchup would mark just a second all-BC affair in the competition’s history. As previously mentioned, Pacific did defeat the Whitecaps back in 2021 in a back-and-forth thriller.
First, both teams will have to get past difficult opening round ties. Both have the advantage of playing at home, which might give them an extra boost. Whether we will see this clash is another matter, however.
York United vs Forge: Final
Ever since the CPL teams started playing in the Canadian Championship, the question has always been asked: when will one of them hoist the Voyageurs’ Cup?
Just imagine, a 905 Derby as the final at York Lions Stadium. Of all the potential finals we could have, it is hard to argue a more tasty matchup than this one.
Such a potential final would mark a first ever competitive 905 Derby outside of the CPL. Forge does have their rival’s number there, winning 10 of 17 matches to date, losing six.
Should we get this as the showpiece for this year’s competition, we would be in for a treat. Of course, both would have to traverse through three difficult rounds of play. Yet, do not count this one out. After all, we are still waiting for an all-CPL final in the Canadian Championship.