The 2019 Canadian Championship begins Wednesday night, with three opening-round fixtures kicking off this expanded Voyageurs Cup.
Four Canadian Premier League sides – HFX Wanderers FC, York9 FC, Pacific FC and Cavalry FC – enter the 13-team tournament at its earliest stage.
Wednesday’s matches will be the first of two legs, with the second set to be played on Wednesday, May 22.
Canadian Championship — Round 1 (Leg 1) Vaughan Azzurri (League1 Ontario) vs. HFX Wanderers FC May 15, 2019 — Ontario Soccer Centre, Vaughan, Ont. (7:00 p.m. ET) Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca
Perennial L1O giants Vaughan Azzurri will host HFX Wanderers at Ontario Soccer Centre in the first leg of their Canadian Championship first round tie on Wednesday night.
It’s the CanChamp debut for both sides. Vaughan qualified by winning L1O’s playoffs last season.
The return leg will take place at Wanderers Grounds (5 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. AT/OneSoccer).
KEYS TO THE MATCH
Wandering Wanderers:The Wanderers head to Vaughan in the midst of an interesting road trip quirk, having been stationed in the Greater Toronto Area since Sunday. Their 1-0 defeat in Winnipeg to Valour FC on the weekend was uninspiring, sure, but Stephen Hart’s side created several chances. If they are able to get over the travel issues, the Wanderers could have a good run in the CanChamp to look forward to.
Up for it:Similar to HFX, Vaughan has started the league season with a bit of mixed bag. A 2-1 defeat to Sigma FC and a swift 4-0 thumping of Unionville Milliken leads them to Wednesday, which promises to be the biggest tilt of their entire 2019 season. The team has one of the more talented groups in L1O, which includes Syracuse University attacker Ryan Raposo. The 19-year-old scored 10 goals in 2018 on a Vaughan side that included current CPLers Dylan Sacramento and Austin Ricci.
CPL links:A good number of former Vaughan products have made their way to the CPL (mostly to Ontario-based sides) but there is an important outlier to note. HFX Wanderers’ Tomasz Skublak and Matthew Arnone came through Vaughan, with the latter making 19 appearances for the L1O side last season. The question is whether the talent at the Toronto-area club has been replenished properly.
Canadian Championship — Round 1 (Leg 1) A.S. Blainville (PLSQ) vs. York9 FC May 15, 2019 — Parc Blainville, Blainville, Que. (7:00 p.m. ET) Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca
The competition’s PLSQ entrant welcomes York9 FC to the Montreal area on Wednesday for their first-leg tie.
A.S. Blainville is returning to the competition having had a successful run in 2018; beating the Oakville Blue Devils in the L1O/PLSQ “play-in” round before dropping a 2-0 aggregate result to Ottawa Fury (USL).
York9, meanwhile, heads to Blainville with a 0-1-1 CPL record, with its last match being a 2-1 defeat to Cavalry on May 4.
The return leg will take place at York Lions Stadium the following Wednesday in Y9’s inaugural home match (7 p.m. ET/OneSoccer).
KEYS TO THE MATCH
CanChamp experience: York9 has a rare connection to Blainville in Diyaeddine Abzi. The 20-year-old left-back came to the CPL side from Blainville in the offseason as a standout at the PLSQ level. Abzi has CanChamp experience, too, having scored in the second leg of the club’s 3-1 aggregate defeat of Oakville last year.
Quebec quality: PSLQ and, by extension, A.S. Blainville, was left unscathed by CPL sides looking to fill rosters this past off-season. That, of course, doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. Quebec sides have played well against L1O competition – where many CPL players originated from – in previous seasons. Blainville is the pick of the PSLQ lot, too, winning back-to-back league championships by comfortable margins.
Fresh legs: York9, coming off a bye from CPL action this weekend, is the most well-rested CPL team in these fixtures, having last played 10 days ago. They should be back up to full-strength, with injuries to Roger Thompson and Joseph Di Chiara possibly cleared up. Captian Manny Aparicio will be back from his suspension, too.
Canadian Championship — Round 1 (Leg 1) Pacific FC vs. Cavalry FC May 15, 2019 —Westhills Stadium (10:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. PT) Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca
It’s the first meeting between the two Western Canadian sides, which sit on opposite ends of the CPL Spring season standings.
Cavalry FC has established themselves as the team to beat in the CPL, stringing together a three-game winning streak to start the season.
The return leg goes next Wednesday at Spruce Meadows (9:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. MT/OneSoccer).
KEYS TO THE MATCH
Cavalry’s momentum: Cavalry are on a roll, everyone in the league is talking about them and they are taking on an injury-plagued side in Pacific. How will Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s Cavs handle the trip? The Albertans are the team CPL sides want to beat, in the league and Cup action.
Haber and Staro: Pacific had some big (read: really, really big) pieces missing in their pair of disappointing away matches this week. Marcus Haber missed both matches with a damaged toe. Same goes for Hendrik Starostzik, who didn’t travel due to a bone bruise. It’s unclear if either player will be back for Wednesday’s match.
Set pieces: Both teams will be looking to set pieces in this one. Cavalry’s bread and butter is the set play — they’re coming off two late wins that were decided by free kicks. Pacific will likely sit back on Cavalry’s high-pressing style, meaning they’ll be in search of that dangerous free-kick placement, too. Oh, and both teams are coming off two days rest … plus travel.