The Voyageurs Cup is bigger and better than ever.
Canada Soccer unveiled a revamped format for the Canadian Championship on Thursday, more than doubling the competition’s size with the addition of Canadian Premier League clubs.
With 13 clubs and 24 matchdays, the competition’s influence is set to grow, with games from May to September, many potential “giant-killings” and clubs involved from coast to coast.
It’s the kind of competition Canadian soccer fans have fantasized about.
Let’s indulge ourselves and take a look at some potential tasty matchups in this year’s tournament.
Note: The CSA announced Thursday it will hold an official draw at a later date
Round 1: From down the road to cross-continent
- Vaughan Azzuri v. York9 FC
- HFX Wanderers v. Pacific FC
- Pacific FC v. Cavalry FC
- HFX Wanderers v. AS Blainville
We’ll start with something of a local derby: York9 vs. Vaughan Azzuri (L1O). Ten kilometres separate Vaughan’s home, the Ontario Soccer Centre, from York University’s Alumni Field, making this the only “local” potential matchup in the competition.
The furthest thing from “local,” HFX Wanderers and Pacific FC would present an interesting storyline given the vast distance that separates the two clubs.
That said, a shorter trip could be in the cards for HFX Wanderers if they draw AS Blainville (PLSQ), a first-round fixture that might entice Privateers 1882 to travel.
Likewise, Pacific FC-Cavalry FC would be a quick trip for supporters looking to taste Canadian Championship action for the first time.
Round 2: CPL-heavy, potential Al Classico
- FC Edmonton v. Cavalry FC
- York FC v. Forge FC
- Valour FC v. Forge FC
If Blainville and Vaughan are dispatched in the first round, the next phase will be an all-CPL affair. Al Classico and York9-Forge FC matchups are possible, making an away trip much more realistic for supporters in June.
A York9-Forge FC matchup would intensify a rivalry that’s expected to brew between the CPL’s current clubs in the Golden Horseshoe.
Round 3: Pacific FC/Whitecaps a possibility
- AS Blaineville vs Montreal Impact
- Vancouver Whitecaps v Pacific FC
- HFX Wanderers vs Ottawa Fury
It’s a bit more unlikely, but still possible.
An all-B.C. tie between Pacific FC and Vancouver Whitecaps is the matchup Van Isle fans are targeting.
If HFX Wanderers make it this far, they will have a decent chance to take on an opponent that is relatively close. Ottawa would be the shortest away trip for the Wanderers this season.
If Blainville makes the third round, it could face Montreal in the first all-Quebec matchup in the competition’s history.
Round 4: York matched with TFC?
- York9 FC v. Toronto FC
- Forge FC v. Toronto FC
- FC Edmonton v. Toronto FC
- Montreal Impact v. Vancouver Whitecaps
If York9 wins back-to-back-to-back rounds and draw defending champions Toronto FC, it would be the first match between two GTA-based professional clubs in over 25 years. It would be a massive day for both clubs.
A Forge-TFC semifinal or final would be great for the same reasons; seeing a full section of TFC supporters at Tim Hortons Field or Forge fans at BMO Field would be a fantastic spectacle.
Montreal Impact-Vancouver Whitecaps is always an interesting tie and one we could see as late as the final. The two teams have met three of the last four years, albeit in a reduced format, and have both fell victim to TFC in the previous three editions. Look for the Whitecaps to throw resources at this competition during a potential rebuilding year in MLS.
A 401 Derby clash between Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact is almost always a treat – even for the neutrals.
Oh, and it would be nice to see FC Edmonton make the final if only to see head coach Jeff Paulus wear a suit and tie for the occasion.