Short and sweet. League1 Ontario’s 2020 schedule has managed to be both.
Both men’s and women’s division schedules were released Thursday, unveiling scheduling tweaks and updated formats for the seventh season of L1O play.
For one, the 2020 season will be shorter for both sexes; women’s play will finish by mid-August when university and college players report to their schools, while the men’s season runs a full four weeks shorter, allowing for an easier transition between summer and post-secondary play.
New championship formats were also unveiled, giving women’s teams a year-end “final four” playoff with Première ligue de soccer du Québec sides and the men a “championship final, which will pit the regular season and playoff champions against each other to represent L1O in the 2021 Canadian Championship.
“It’s about making the competition more meaningful,” League1 Ontario women’s commissioner Carmelina Moscato said.
Previously, female university players – both U SPORTS and NCAA – would depart L1O clubs by the middle of August. Thursday’s schedule allows the best L1O players to stay with their side right up to the PLSQ final four weekend from August 14th to 16th.
“We had a chance to align the calendars to properly work with these universities and build a relationship while making the League1 final important. As an observer, I want to see the best players late in the season. The fans want that, too,” Moscato continued.
Men’s division teams will see a similar added emphasis on the pre-university segment of their 2020 season – specifically the regular season.
The top team in the regular season will play in a new end-of-year “championship final” against the playoff champion – winner goes on to face Canadian Premier League and Major League Soccer sides in the 2021 Canadian Championship. Previously, playoff champions represented Ontario’s top-flight league in Canada’s cup competition – Masters FA being that team for 2020.
“The reality is a significant and growing proportion of our players depart for university or college in the fall,” League1 Ontario commissioner Dino Rossi said. “It was collectively agreed that the winner of the regular season deserves some very meaningful extra benefits, more so than just home-field advantage in the playoffs.
“Our goal is to enjoy a more seamless transition between the League1 summer season and the College/University season. Our new schedule virtually eliminates any overlap, which has proven to be stressful for players and coaches.”
Darby FC and North Missisuaga FC will open the 2020 men's season in Whitby on Friday, April 24th. Women's play will begin the following day with three games, starting with 2019 defending champion FC London visiting Alliance United at Centennial College.
To view the entire 2020 L1O schedule, click here.