The Canadian Premier League unveiled the schedule for the first round of the 2020 regular season on Monday.
Dubbed The Island Games – as it will be played in its entirety in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – the 2020 CPL campaign (which is divided into two group stages and a one-off final) will begin this Thursday. The first round ends on Sept. 9.
The CPL previously announced that the opening game of the season will be a rematch of Finals 2019 with Forge FC facing Cavalry FC on Aug. 13 (8:00 p.m. ET).
Monday’s news revealed that Atlético Ottawa, which was welcomed into the fold this past winter as the CPL’s eighth club and first expansion side, will play its first match in league history when it meets York9 FC on Aug. 15 (noon ET).
The other opening matches are: HFX Wanderers FC vs. Pacific FC (Aug. 15, 3:00 p.m. ET), Valour FC vs. Cavalry FC (Aug. 16, noon ET) and Forge FC vs. FC Edmonton (Aug. 16, 3:00 p.m. ET).
The schedule for the second round and the final will be released at a later date.
All matches will be played behind closed doors in a sequestered environment in Charlottetown with the five-substitute rule in effect. Every match from The Island Games will air live on OneSoccer. Additional domestic and international broadcast partners will be announced in the days ahead.
The format of the 2020 regular season breaks down like this:
An opening group stage (28 games) where every team will play each other once. The top four teams advance to a second round-robin group.
A second group stage (six games) where every team will play each other once. The top two teams advance to the finals.
A winner-take-all, one-match finale with the North Star Shield at stake.
The winner of The Island Games will not only be crowned CPL champions for 2020, but also qualify for the 2021 Concacaf League.
All eight teams arrived in Charlottetown this past weekend in preparation for The Island Games after all players and staff members were tested and followed the CPL’s health and safety self-isolation protocols.
“It’s going to be different. It will be challenging and not many people know how to prepare for something like this, but you can only play the hand you’ve been dealt and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Valour FC co-captain Daryl Fordyce told CanPL.ca.
“Once you get on the pitch that’s when it will really make sense, when things will start clicking together and you’ll realized why you’re there.”
The 2020 CPL campaign was originally slated to kick off of April 11, but the league has been in a holding pattern since March 13 when pre-season training camps were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All matches from The Island Games will take place on the campus of the University of Prince Edward Island, which hosted events during the 2009 Canada Summer Games.