The 2020 Canadian Championship is not dead but, if it happens this summer or fall, it will look a lot different.
Canada Soccer announced on Tuesday that it still intends to stage the tournament this year, but that it would only feature Canadian Premier League and Major League Soccer clubs, leaving out Masters FA from League1 Ontario and PLSQ’s AS Blainville. However, Canada Soccer said that Master’s FA and AS Blainville will compete in the 2021 edition of the Canadian Championship.
Tuesday’s announcement confirms that Atlético Ottawa, whose Voyageurs Cup involvement was up in the air, will participate in the 2020 tournament if played. Atlético Ottawa officially joined the CPL as its first expansion franchise in January, a month after the 2020 Canadian Championship’s original format was confirmed by Canada Soccer.
A revised competition format and match dates for the 2020 Canadian Championship were not announced on Tuesday, but such details are expected to be disclosed at a later time.
Tuesday’s news comes as all eight CPL clubs recently returned to training, and MLS sides Toronto FC, Montreal Impact, and Vancouver Whitecaps prepare to play a tournament-style competition in Orlando starting in July. Both the CPL and MLS have been on hold since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Master’s FA qualified for the 2020 Canadian Championship after winning the League1 Ontario playoffs last year. L1O canceled its 2020 “Summer” season earlier this month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but said a shortened, tournament-style competition could still be played this fall. AS Blainville was poised to play in its third straight Canadian Championship since teams from Quebec’s top league were first admitted to the championship in 2018.
The 2020 Canadian Championship was scheduled to kick off on June 16, with four rounds of two-legged knockout ties and a final set to be played in mid-September. The tournament was reformatted for this year, with 12 teams confirmed to be participating — eight entering at the preliminary qualifying round, and another four in the quarter-finals (the three Canadian MLS teams and Cavalry FC, as semifinalists in 2019).
Like the CPL and MLS, the start of the 2020 Canadian Championship was delayed due to the pandemic.
Last year’s Voyageurs Cup champions, the Montreal Impact, were playing in the Concacaf Champions League quarter-finals against Honduran side Olimpia when the 2020 tournament was called off in March, having lost the first leg 2-1.
The Impact earned the right to compete in the Champions League after winning the 2019 Canadian Championship final against Toronto FC, having beaten CPL outfits York9 FC and Cavalry FC in the earlier rounds.