The 2019 Canadian Premier League season is about to begin, with the campaign set to run over the course of 28 matches, split between two halves of the regular season.
Seven clubs – HFX Wanderers FC (Halifax), York9 FC (York Region), Forge FC (Hamilton), Valour FC (Winnipeg), FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC (Calgary) and Pacific FC (Vancouver Island) – will compete in the 2019 Canadian Premier League season.
The Canadian Premier League will operate with an opening half (Spring) and a closing half (Fall), which together comprise the overall 2019 Canadian Premier League season.
This model for soccer is used in other parts of the world, like in Mexico, where the “Apertura” and “Clausura” mark two distinct champions at the top and bottom of every year. Here’s how it works:
The 2019 Canadian Premier League season format
The Canadian Premier League’s take on this model follows an unbalanced “Spring” and “Fall” season – each team’s first 10 matches encompass the “Spring” portion, which kicks off at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday, April 27 as Forge FC hosts York9 FC in the league’s inaugural match.
The Spring portion of the season ends on Canada Day (July 1, 2019) with a trio of matches rounding it out. The winner of the Spring season is the team which amasses the most points in a single table of seven clubs.
Three points are awarded to the winner of each match; one point is awarded to both clubs in the instance of a draw; 0 points go to the losing outfit. This is a standard point reward system for soccer leagues around the world.
The Spring winner – the team that has the most points by the end of all matches on July 1 – earns a berth in the 2019 Canadian Premier League Championship.
The Fall competition encompasses matches 11 through 28 for each club. It is the longer of the two halves, as such. The single table is reset, so all clubs will start anew with 0 points across the board. The Fall winner will earn the second berth in the 2019 Canadian Premier League Championship.
The 2019 Canadian Premier League Championship pits the two winners against one another for the title of 2019 Canadian Premier League Champion. It is the ultimate prize in the Canadian Premier League.
In the instance of a tie in the final table standings for either Spring or Fall, the following tiebreaker procedures will be implemented to determine a winner:
Total number of wins
Away goals differential
Away goals for
Home goals differential
Home goals for
Coin toss (tie of two clubs) or drawing of lots (tie of three or more clubs)
Should the same team win both the Spring and the Fall portions of the season, the winner of the Spring half will take on the team with the highest cumulative points total across both halves.
During the season, each team will play 14 home and 14 away matches in total, though some clubs will play one another four times, and other clubs will play against each other five times.
For example, Cavalry FC will play FC Edmonton, Forge FC, HFX Wanderers FC and York9 FC five times during the course of the 2019 season, but will play Pacific FC and Valour FC four times each. This unbalanced approach serves to normalize the schedule due to the uneven number of clubs participating in the league’s inaugural season. All clubs will play four other clubs five times, and the two remaining clubs four times apiece as a result of this process.
Matches will be played on various days of the week, though the majority of matches fall on Saturdays and Wednesdays. The Canadian Premier League has staggered its weekend matches to allow fans to watch the full slate of matches back-to-back. Weeknight matches could overlap with one another due to time zone differences, however.
The final matchweeks of Spring (July 1) and Fall (Oct. 19) feature three games apiece, which will cap off that half of the campaign.
Beyond the regular season, Canadian Premier League clubs will play in two additional competitions in 2019.
The first is the Canadian Championship. This is different from the Canadian Premier League Championship, and includes Canadian clubs from many different leagues, such as Major League Soccer and League1 Ontario.
The Canadian Championship is a five-round competition which pits 13 clubs (3 MLS, 7 Canadian Premier League, 1 USL, 1 PLSQ, 1 L1O) against one another in pursuit of the Voyageurs Cup, a trophy created by Canadian soccer supporters group “The Voyageurs.”
The following clubs will compete in the 2019 Canadian Championship:
HFX Wanderers FC (Canadian Premier League)
York9 FC (Canadian Premier League)
Forge FC (Canadian Premier League)
Valour FC (Canadian Premier League)
FC Edmonton (Canadian Premier League)
Cavalry FC (Canadian Premier League)
Pacific FC (Canadian Premier League)
Toronto FC (MLS)
Montreal Impact (MLS)
Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS)
Ottawa Fury (USL)
A.S. Blainville (PLSQ)
Vaughan Azzurri (L1O)
The winner of the Canadian Championship earns a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League – an international club competition encompassing clubs from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
This is not the only route to the CONCACAF Champions League for Canadian Premier League clubs, though. In 2019, three clubs – Forge FC, Valour FC, and FC Edmonton – will compete for a spot in the CONCACAF League. The team with the best head-to-head record by July 1 will be awarded the spot. Though they are similar in name, the CONCACAF League is a qualifying tournament to earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League – they are two different competitions, though they are both linked.
The CONCACAF League similarly features clubs from all across the region. There is a preliminary round, where the one Canadian Premier League club enters, followed by a Round of 16. The rest of the tournament is whittled down until a winner and the remaining five top clubs earn a berth in the Champions League.
The Champions League is the highest prize in the CONCACAF region. No Canadian or American team has won the CONCACAF Champions League.
In the future, the winner of the Canadian Premier League Championship will be awarded the berth in the CONCACAF League.
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