Three CPL clubs took to the pitch on Wednesday in the first leg of Qualifying Round 3 in the 2019 Canadian Championship. HFX Wanderers FC hosted the USL’s Ottawa Fury, while York9 FC and Cavalry FC both took on MLS opposition in the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps, respectively.
While the Wanderers fell behind in their tie, losing a hard-fought contest 3-2 to the Fury, both York9 and Cavalry scraped gutsy draws. All three sides now look to the away legs, which will go down on Wednesday, July 24.
With the results from the three opening matches of QR3 now in the books, here’s what the CPL sides need to do (mathematically) on the road in Leg 2 to advance to the CanChamp semi-finals.
Wednesday was a frustrating night for HFX; twice they scored to draw level with the Fury, and twice they conceded to fall back behind. So, they’re in a bit of a hole heading into the July 24 rematch at TD Place in Ottawa (7:30 p.m. ET, on OneSoccer).
Any form of draw or loss would be curtains for the Wanderers’ CanChamp campaign, as they’re already a goal behind. A 1-0 or 2-1 win wouldn’t be enough either; Ottawa’s trifecta of away goals means that they’d advance on a 3-3 or 4-4 aggregate tie.
To advance after 90 minutes in Ottawa, the Wanderers thus need to:
Win outright on aggregate, by winning the second leg by two or more goals. A 2-0 win, for instance, would make it 4-3 for HFX over two legs.
Win on away goals, by claiming victory in Ottawa and scoring at least four times.
If, somehow, HFX manages to win 3-2 in the second leg, we’ll head directly to penalties.
The most plausible result for Stephen Hart’s side to shoot for would likely be a 2-0 or 3-1 win, for which they’ll need to tighten up the defence and continue to press offensively as they did late in the first leg. And, for what it’s worth, Hart’s not throwing in the towel, either.
The Nine Stripes find themselves in a better spot than the Wanderers heading into Leg 2. They’re on level footing with the Montreal Impact after a heart-stopping second half at York Lions Stadium, in which two costly errors for York9 gave Montreal the goals they needed to match the home side’s pair.
For York9 side to advance from the second leg, the objective is simple: Just win.
Beating the Impact at Stade Saputo on July 24 (7:30 p.m. ET, on OneSoccer) in any fashion would see Jimmy Brennan’s side through with an outright aggregate win. The other side of that coin, however, is that any form of loss in the away game would eliminate the Nine Stripes.
If the deadlock can’t be broken in La Belle Province, then Montreal has a slight upper hand, having scored two away goals. A 0-0 or 1-1 draw would be enough for the Impact to advance, and another 2-2 result would take us to a penalty shootout.
Of course, a 3-3 draw (or any higher-scoring draw) would mean that York9 takes the tie on away goals.
Again – all York9 needs to do is win. A tall order, maybe, as they head into truly hostile territory to play an MLS outfit, but they were knocking on the door of a victory at home, weren’t they?
The Cavs are in an even better position than York9, as they completely suffocated the Whitecaps to keep a clean sheet at home. Their 0-0 draw at Spruce Meadows gives them an advantage heading out on the road, since any goals they score at BC Place in Leg 2 on July 24 (10:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. PT, on OneSoccer) would automatically give them an edge on away goals.
Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s side can now advance from several possible results in Vancouver. Any win would, of course, put Cavalry in the semi-final outright, since they’ve got a blank slate to work with for Leg 2.
Cavalry also can’t be eliminated with just a draw; a matching 0-0 result would have the tie decided by penalty kicks, but any other draw would be enough to “defeat” the Whitecaps. A Cavalry loss would knock them out of the tournament, as such.
So, the primary focus for Cavalry will be to put one in the back of the net. Any goal they score will put major pressure on Vancouver, since they’d need to score at least two if they go down 1-0 at home.
The ball is, therefore, in Cavalry’s court, in a manner of speaking. A win or a draw would likely have them in the next round (or at least send them to the penalty spot). Should they manage to get through, the winner of York9 vs. Montreal awaits.