It’s been just over 12 weeks since we saw the end of the 2023 CPL campaign. This off-season, moves have been made, more young Canadians have been added to the league’s ranks, and team identities have seemingly been altered. Now, after the drama of it all, we have a 2024 CPL season schedule release to help excite you for what’s to come.
With 28 matchweeks, 112 matches to be played, and many, many travel plans to be made, here are eight dates you need to circle on your calendar for this upcoming season.
APRIL 13: An opening day triple-header with a replay of last year’s final
The only triple-header on this year’s schedule compared to last year’s four, the 2024 season will kick-off in style.
Atlético Ottawa will welcome York United for an all-Ontario battle to start the season at 1 p.m. ET, while Halifax Wanderers FC will head coast-to-coast for a meeting with Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET).
Falling directly between those two matches, the script writers couldn’t resist a replay of last year’s CPL final. While not being for the coveted North Star Cup, don’t expect any less fireworks as Cavalry FC return to Hamilton to take on Forge FC at 4 p.m. ET.
Matchweek 1 will be closed out on April 14 as Vancouver FC start their season at home against Valour FC.
MAY 25: B.C. bragging rights begin in Langley
Everyone loves a derby match, and in 2023, Vancouver and Pacific gave us more than enough reason to pay special attention to what’s going on out west.
Finishing last season’s derby ties with two wins apiece, neither side was able to win off-season bragging rights over the other.
Pacific started off well, winning their first two matches against their provincial rivals, including a 6-3 match of the year candidate.
Vancouver had the last laugh, winning 3-2 in August, and 2-1 in their second-last match of the season.
Pacific may have finished higher on the table than their west-coast counterparts, but the first-year Vancouver side showed their inability to go down without a fight, creating a fascinating second-year rivalry.
This one kicks off Saturday, May 25 at 3 p.m. PT (6 p.m. ET).
JULY 1: The lone Canada Day match takes place in Halifax
It couldn’t possibly be the Canadian Premier League without a Canada Day tie.
In the final game of matchweek 12, Cavalry will travel from Alberta to Nova Scotia to take on the Wanderers on July 1.
While this match will most definitely be overshadowed by the national holiday, it has potential to mean a lot more than just the day it takes place on.
Last year’s regular season champions versus the third-place finishers, this game could be crucial to either team’s season title hopes.
Cavalry had the season advantage last year, going 2-1-1 against the Wanderers.
JULY 7: Former Valour FC captain Diego Gutiérrez returns to Winnipeg
The Chilean-Canadian made 79 appearances all-time for the Winnipeg club, but chose a new adventure in Calgary this month.
While his return may come with some mixed emotions, it will be interesting to see Gutiérrez at Winnipeg’s IG Field sporting a different club’s kit.
The match takes place one week before the season’s halfway mark, so we’ll already have a good idea on how the midfielder fits in with his new squad.
Whether he fits well or not in Cavalry colours, his fit may never sit right with the Valour faithful.
AUGUST 5: Halifax’s Natal Day football tradition continues
In case you’re unfamiliar, Natal Day is observed on the first Monday of August each year and celebrates the birth of Nova Scotia. And if you ask the Wanderers, there’s no better way to celebrate than with some holiday football.
Halifax has held a game on Natal Day every year since 2019, except for 2020 when the game was postponed (ask why). The tradition started off strong with wins in both of their first two Natal Day games. In their last two, however, they have suffered defeats to York in 2022 and Pacific this past year.
With their all-time record sitting at 2-0-2 on the holiday, they face Vancouver FC this Natal Day as they look to get back to positive ways.
SEPTEMBER 28: A potentially crucial 905 derby in Hamilton
A matchup that always brings a little extra heat, the fourth and final 905 derby of the 2024 campaign comes in matchweek 25.
While Forge would go on to win the North Star Cup, these two sides were only separated by four points at the same time last season.
Already the CPL’s most well-known and revered rivalry, the Sept. 28 instalment of their fierce regional feud could come with more incentives than the others in 2024.
The Hamilton-based team got the best of their four matchups last season, but only just, winning twice, losing once and tying 3-3 in the last of their meetings.
OCTOBER 6: Ottawa’s chance for redemption at York Lions Stadium in Matchweek 26
In a complete repeat of last season, York United once again welcomes Atlético Ottawa to York Lions Stadium in matchweek 26. One year and five days after Kevin Dos Santos’ late winner that pushed York into the playoff picture, Ottawa could have their chance at redemption.
There’s no telling what the CPL table will look like with three matches to go, but what storytelling it would be to have the two sides once again in a fight for superior position come Oct. 6.
The clubs have overseen a massive change in personnel in their own ways, both on and off the pitch. But through all the change, there will be players on both sides with memories of Oct. 1, 2023 in this season’s repeat fixture.
OCTOBER 19: DECISION DAY
The most clear and obvious date to be circled on this list, no matter what club you support.
Decision day always brings the drama and excitement, the twists and the turns, with this year hopefully proving no different.
This season’s potentially crucial final day will see:
HFX Wanderers FC vs York United at Wanderers Grounds
Atlético Ottawa vs Vancouver FC at TD Place Stadium
Valour FC vs Cavalry FC at IG Field
Pacific FC vs Forge FC at Starlight Stadium
Last year, ‘decision day’ was split between Oct. 6-7, but this year, it could all come down to one day: Oct. 19.