The 2017 Canadian Championship features five clubs across three rounds and serves as a conduit to CONCACAF Champions League, the path by which Canadian teams have a chance to play the best clubs in the world at the FIFA Club World Cup, such as reigning champions CF Real Madrid.
In line with the launch of the new CONCACAF Champions League format which places the Canadian representative in Phase II beginning in March 2018, a special one-match Canadian playoff between last year's winners Toronto FC (unless Toronto FC repeats as Canadian winners) and the 2017 winners will be played on 9 August in Toronto to determine who will advance.
Looking ahead to 2018, Canada Soccer has also confirmed plans to expand the Canadian Championship to include winning teams from both League1 Ontario and Première Ligue de soccer du Québec - the two division III Canadian leagues currently in existence.
In lieu of this development, the DIII Inter-Provincial Cup competition will be discontinued.
The 10th edition of the Canadian Championship will kick off 3 May when Ottawa Fury FC host FC Edmonton in a head-to-head elimination series. The two-match qualifying round sets the Battle of the North in motion, which sets itself apart from all North American professional sports leagues that operate on both sides of the border as the only one to hold an all-Canada competition that leads to the international stage.
The qualifying round winner will join the three MLS teams for home and away Semi-final series. The home and away Final round will follow with the final match on 27 June where the winner will be crowned 2017 Canadian Champion and raise the Voyageurs Cup.
New to the Canadian Championship in 2017, Canada Soccer has added a Canadian Content rule ensuring that at least three Canadians are included on every starting lineup throughout the competition.
"Canada Soccer is pleased to continue the focus on Canadian player development at the professional level with the introduction of the Canadian Content rule for the Canadian Championship," stated Victor Montagliani, President, Canada Soccer.
He added that "this rule builds on the youth development initiatives announced last year in collaboration with MLS that include the expansion of the Homegrown Player parameters to ensure that Canadian youth players in MLS club academies or Canadian approved youth clubs will be considered as domestic players in MLS."
Toronto FC: Voyageur Cup/ Amway 2016 Canadian Champions
About the Canadian Championship:
The 10th edition of the Canadian Championship features five clubs from across three professional leagues: Vancouver Whitecaps FC (MLS), FC Edmonton (NASL), Toronto FC (MLS), Ottawa Fury FC (USL), and Impact Montréal FC (MLS).
Additional information on the competition format and the clubs’ rosters can be found on the Canadian Championship official website at canadasoccer.com/championship.
Fans are encourage to follow @CanadaSoccerEN on Twitter using #canChamp for tournament updates, but also to connect with the five Canadian professional clubs involved for live match coverage (@WhitecapsFC, @FCEdmontonNow, @torontofc, @OttawaFuryFC, @impactmontreal).
What you need to know:
The Canadian Championship’s current title holders are Toronto FC, the most successful club with five titles.
Since 2008, three Canadian winners have reached the Quarter-final stage or further in CONCACAF Champions League: Toronto FC once (Semi-finals in 2011-12), Impact Montréal FC twice (Quarter-finals in 2008-09 and Grand Final in 2014-15), and Vancouver Whitecaps FC this year (currently in the 2016-17 Semi-finals).
The Voyageurs Cup has been awarded to the Canadian Championship winner since 2008. Created by the Voyageurs Canadian Supporters group, the trophy represents Canadian fans’ commitment to the game in our country.
The George Gross Memorial Trophy recognises the Canadian Championship's most valuable player. The Trophy is named after the late George Gross, a respected journalist and honoured member of the Soccer Hall of Fame. Last year's winner was Benoît Cheyrou of Toronto FC.
In 2017, to be eligible as a Canadian on the starting line-up, a player must be a Canadian Citizen and/or hold a Canadian passport and, not played for, or represented, by virtue of dual citizenship or parental lineage, any other Member Association National soccer team, at any level, unless a change of Association, in accordance with FIFA Statutes, to Canada Soccer has been granted.
Impact Montréal FC came tantalizingly close to reaching the FIFA Club World Cup in 2015. After tying Mexico’s storied CF América 1:1 at the famed Estadio Azteca in the first leg of the CONCACAF Grand Final, the Impact took the lead in the 8th minute of the second leg in front of 61,004 fans packed into Montréal's Stade Olympique. In a match that will be remembered for years to come, the Impact looked like they would lift Canada into the FIFA Club World Cup for much of the match, before Club América converted three goals in 15 minutes to secure the win.
One of the most distinguished club level trophies in soccer, the FIFA Club World Cup pits the winners of CONCACAF Champions League against the winners of the five other continental championships: Asia's AFC Champions League, Africa's CAF Champions League, South America's Copa Libertadores, Oceania's OFC Champions League, and Europe's UEFA Champions League. The competition also features the host nation's national champions.
Follow the Canadian Championship on Twitter by using #canChamp.