Bring ‘em on. That was the sentiment shared across the board by Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson, Toronto FC boss Greg Vanney and Canadian international Jonathan Osorio following the conclusion of a thrilling 2018 Canadian Championship. The Reds emerged victorious with a 7-4 aggregate win over the Whitecaps, including a 5-2 drubbing at BMO Field on Wednesday night, but with the tournament more than doubling in size with the introduction of Canadian Premier League outfits in 2019, the three were all in agreement that the additional competition would only be good for soccer in the country. “It’s great that other teams are coming in,” tournament MVP Osorio said, when asked by CanPL.ca about his new foes. “It’s great that our country is getting a league of our own. I think it’s going to be fundamental for the growth of the sport in our country, for the growth of the youth development.
“It’s great. It’s only going to make this tournament a little bit bigger, you know … and it means more games, and that might not be the greatest thing, but on the other hand, I think it’ll give a chance for a lot of young players to play, so that’s great.” Vanney added: “I echo Jonathan’s sentiments … I think, just the Premier League starting, it’s a good thing for Canadian soccer. As the professional level starts to grow and emerge, hopefully it’s motivation for the (Canadian) player pool to continue to push forward and more young players to strive to become professionals, because maybe there’s more opportunities for young Canadian players to take those steps.
Next year’s Canadian Championship is likely to feature at least 11 professional clubs, making Canada’s domestic Cup competition a true FA Cup-style event. “As far as the Canadian Championship, I think it’s great,” Vanney continued. “I think as this tournament and event continues to grow and grow in competitiveness, I think it can only be better for Canadian soccer. That’s what it’s all about in the end.
“For us, it may mean more games – and we’ll figure out how to manage that in a busy season – but this event should be about the growth of the sport in this country and put a spotlight on soccer in Canada, so more teams involved and more of a spotlight across the entire country instead of maybe just a few cities, I think it can be a great thing.” Toronto FC’s win over the Whitecaps was the fourth instance of the Reds pipping their western rivals for the Voyageurs Cup. As such, Robinson is hoping one of these newer CPL teams can help knock Vanney’s side off their perch. “The more teams that play in it, the better,” Robinson said. “I think sometimes, when there’s only three or four teams, that sometimes it’s hard. You’re picking yourself up in a busy league schedule, so the more teams in it, the better. I really believe that. It might end up the same outcome, but it’ll give a chance for a shock or two because Toronto’s won it three times in a row now, so maybe one of the smaller underdogs can shock them.” With more teams on the horizon, Osorio and his fellow teammates can look forward to seeing even more of the country. When asked to pick his away destination of choice for the 2019 affair, Osorio admitted he has one eye on Halifax and HFX Wanderers FC. “As far as away trips, I’ve never been to the east coast,” Osorio teased. “That would be interesting if that happened.”