Guelph United are hosting Halifax Wanderers on Tuesday, May 10 in the Canadian Championship – the top domestic cup competition in the country.
As the winners of League1 Ontario’s Men’s Premier Division last year, the club earned a place in the preliminary round of the tournament alongside Vancouver Whitecaps from Major League Soccer, CS Mont-Royal Outremont from Première ligue de soccer du Québec, and seven Canadian Premier League clubs.
The winners in this round will head into the quarterfinals where they could meet Toronto FC, CF Montréal, or Pacific FC who each received a bye into the final eight. The losers at each stage are eliminated from the competition until a winner is crowned.
If you are unfamiliar with the Canadian Championship or would like some facts to throw at your friends, we’ve got you covered in our Bluffer’s Guide.
The silverware that all the Canadian Championship clubs are vying for each year is the Voyageurs Cup – named after the Canadian national team supporters’ group.
Following Canada’s impressive Gold Cup-winning campaign in 2000, the Voyageurs started recording the results of each all-Canadian club game to determine the best team in the country.
The winner was awarded with the Voyageurs Cup, and it has now been used to crown the Canadian Championship winners since the tournament’s inception in 2008.
Toronto have won the Canadian Championship more than any other team with seven titles, followed by CF Montréal with five and Vancouver Whitecaps with one trophy from eight finals.
While CF Montréal come into the new campaign as reigning champions, a winner still hasn’t been crowned for 2020. The final between Forge and Toronto was postponed due to COVID-19 and is now set to be decided on Saturday, June 4 this summer – with Forge looking to be the first non-MLS club to lift the Voyageurs Cup.
Did you know? The player with the most all-time appearances in the Canadian Championship is Russell Teibert, who was born in Niagara Falls in Ontario.
We’ve been here before
Vaughan Azzurri are currently the only L1O team to have won a game in the Canadian Championship – defeating Halifax Wanderers on the road 1-0 courtesy of an own goal by Peter Schaale.
Unfortunately for the semi-professional side, Halifax had already beaten the Azzurri 3-2 in the first leg and advanced by the finest of margins on away goals.
With ties now being played over one leg and the comfort of home advantage, Guelph United have an opportunity to rumble the Canadian Premier League side themselves and achieve what Vaughan had come so close to achieving back in 2019.
The Blue Devils and Master’s FA are the two other L1O clubs to have competed in the tournament after their L1O Championship Final-winning campaigns in 2018 and 2021 respectively.
Did you know? The top scorer in last year’s Canadian Championship with three goals was Austin Ricci, who played 12 times for Vaughan Azzurri in League1 Ontario in 2018.
Part of something bigger
The Canadian Championship brings together clubs from four different leagues, and communities from coast to coast.
As well as this, the tournament is a steppingstone to opportunities outside of our country’s borders and is the only all-Canadian sports competition to provide such a pathway.
Winning the Canadian Championship – or the Battle of the North as it is also known – is a qualification route to the Concacaf Champions League and, potentially, the FIFA Club World Cup.
While there is this exciting doorway to the global game, the tournament has continued to prioritise the growth of soccer at home. Teams competing in the Canadian Championship must field at least three starters with Canadian nationality for every fixture.
How to get involved
Tickets to the game between Guelph United and Halifax Wanderers at Alumni Stadium can be purchased in advance from guelphunitedfc.ca/shop for $20 for adults and $10 for youths. They will be more expensive at the gate.
The weather forecast looks promising for a sunny day with highs of 21 degrees Celsius, with kick-off at 7pm ET.
If you can’t attend the game in person on May 10, OneSoccer will be live streaming the game on their YouTube channel.
You can also get involved in the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanChamp, #UnitedFront, or #WeAreUnited.