The Canadian Premier League revealed on Monday the full schedule for the 2021 season (presented by WestJet), with all eight clubs returning to their home markets to see out the campaign following the conclusion of The Kickoff presented by Volkswagen Canada, the single-site bubble in Winnipeg that has hosted teams for the first month of the season.
With The Kickoff ending on July 24, CPL teams will head swiftly homeward, with the first post-bubble matches coming on Friday, July 30 as York United hosts Forge FC at a newly-renovated York Lions Stadium (7 pm ET), followed by Pacific FC taking on Cavalry FC on Vancouver Island (9:30 pm ET/6:30 pm PT). The regular season will run until Saturday, November 6.
Each team will have played eight times at The Kickoff, which leaves 20 matches each for the next phase of the season. Clubs will play 10 times at home and away, with their remaining contests primarily coming against teams closer to them geographically. The four easternmost clubs — HFX Wanderers FC, Atlético Ottawa, York United FC, and Forge FC — and the four in the west — Pacific FC, FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC, and Valour FC — will all play 16 of their games against each other, with four against the more distant sides they will have already faced in Winnipeg. This unbalanced schedule has been designed to cut down on travel throughout the season as much as possible.
The schedule has plenty of highlights, with each team making their triumphant return to their home stadiums — or, in the case of Atlético Ottawa, playing at home in TD Place Stadium for the first time ever (which will come on Saturday, August 14 at 3 pm ET against HFX Wanderers). A complete list of home openers, which will take place between July 30 and August 16, is below:
The final matchday of the season — November 6 — is sure to be a special one as well, with all eight CPL clubs kicking off at exactly the same time (2:30 pm ET). HFX Wanderers will host Atlético Ottawa, Forge will travel to play York United in another 905 Derby, Cavalry will take on Pacific at Spruce Meadows, and FC Edmonton will play Valour at Clarke Stadium. With the first few weeks of the season so competitive, that final day could well see most CPL teams jostling for position in the top four ahead of the playoffs.
As revealed before The Kickoff, this year’s CPL season will take a single-table format, with the top four teams on points advancing to a single-knockout semifinal round, followed by a final to decide the 2021 CPL champion.
Weekends will continue to be busy times in the CPL, including a ComeOn! Match of the Week to cap things off on a regular basis — the first of which after The Kickoff will be that York versus Forge matchup on Friday, July 30.
“Like our fans and supporters, we are all eager and excited to return to our home markets and play in front of fans, including being able to celebrate with our Ottawa fans as Atlético has their inaugural match at TD Place on August 14,” said CPL commissioner David Clanachan.
“The future is bright as we prepare to open our stadiums and get back to a regular schedule that allows our players, coaches, officials and staff to be at home with their families and friends. I want to thank everyone who is in the bubble in Winnipeg for their commitment and devotion to this beautiful game so many of us love. Thank you to our fans and supporters for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you cheering on your favourite club at their home field.”