CUP PREVIEW: All-CPL CanChamp doubleheader set for Wednesday

The Canadian Championship’s all-Canadian Premier League Qualifying Round 2 continues this week, as all three ties head west to wrap things up in the second leg of this two-legged round of Cup action. Six CPL sides — Cavalry FC, Forge FC, Valour FC, HFX Wanderers FC, FC Edmonton, and York9 FC — are vying for a spot in the third round, where MLS and USL matchups await.

Leg 2 action began Tuesday night with Cavalry taking down Forge 2-1, 3-2 on aggregate.

Canadian Championship — Round 2 (Leg 2)
Valour FC vs. HFX Wanderers FC (1-2 agg.)
June 12 — IG Field (8:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. CT)
Watch Live:

2019 Canadian Championship - HFX Wanderers FC vs ValourFC - Wanderers Grounds, Halifax, Nova Scotia - June 5, 2019. Valour FC Defender Jordan Murrell (4) and HFX Wanderers FC Defender Elton John (5) shake hands before the match.(Trevor MacMillan/CPL)
Valour FC defender Jordan Murrell (4) and HFX Wanderers FC defender Elton John (5) shake hands before the match.(Trevor MacMillan/CPL)

The wind shifted in an instant at Wanderers Grounds last week as an early lead for Valour vanished almost immediately with a pair of quick goals from HFX. The Wanderers now take a paper-thin 2-1 lead into Winnipeg where they’ll have a tough job ahead of them against a revved-up home side.

The winner of this tie would move on to play the USL’s Ottawa Fury, and a matchup with Toronto FC waits just beyond that in the semi-final round.


Stay the course: For the most part, Valour FC were the better team in Leg 1, with a stretch of about 10 minutes ultimately dooming them on the night. Rob Gale’s side doesn’t need to change anything dramatically; if they continue their fluid, possession-based game the goals will come.

Never say die: They have the lead now, but that doesn’t mean HFX might not fall behind if Valour nick an early goal at home. The Wanderers have battled back from behind in three straight games, though, so they can never be counted out.

Road trippin’: HFX are 3-0-1 in CPL games at home this season, but 0-3-0 on the road. In fact, they haven’t scored against CPL opposition away from Wanderers Grounds. Valour, however, have been less-than-stellar at IG Field, with one win from three games. This would be a perfect time for the Wanderers to finally get something going on the road.

Canadian Championship — Round 2 (Leg 2)
FC Edmonton vs. York9 FC (1-3 agg.)
June 12 — Clarke Field (9:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. MT)
Watch Live:

Jun 5, 2019; York, Ontario, CAN; FC Edmonton forward Oumar Diouck (45) battles for the ball with York 9 defencer Morey Doner (3) in the first half of a Canadian Championship soccer match at York University Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports for CPL
FC Edmonton forward Oumar Diouck (45) battles for the ball with York 9 defender Morey Doner (3) in the first half of a Canadian Championship soccer match at York Lions Stadium. (Photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports for CPL)

The Eddies find themselves in a deeper hole than any other team in this round of the competition after losing 3-1 on the road to York9. They did manage to find one away goal (and they were dismayed to see a second disallowed), but their defensive weaknesses were exposed.

With their work cut out for them, FC Edmonton return home. Right now, it’s York9 that look poised to take on the Montreal Impact in QR3, but a 2-0 win for the Eddies at Clarke Field isn’t entirely out of the question.


Set-pieces: All three of York9’s goals in Leg 1 were the exact same: headers off corner kicks. That’s a very obvious area of improvement for Jeff Paulus’ Edmonton side, whose tall defenders have generally done well on set-pieces this year. The Eddies have to do better than that in the air, and can’t lose track of men in the box.

90-minute effort: York9 were no short of dominant at times last Wednesday. They controlled the ball high up the pitch, they stretched out the defence, and they generated chances. Toward the end of the game, though, they started to slip and had to weather a storm of pressure. Jimmy Brennan’s side need not chase goals necessarily, but they do have to neutralize their opponent more convincingly for a full 90 minutes.

Open the floodgates: FCE’s Kareem Moses admitted last week that Oumar Diouck’s goal — the Eddies’ first in five games — got a monkey off their backs. That particular pressure is now off, but the questions of where goals will come from remain. Edmonton needs at least two goals in this game, so they’ll be hoping that their late push in Leg 1 will spark their attack in Leg 2.