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Canadian championship set to kick off

TFC Champs (Reuters Pictures)

Change is in the air north of the border, where a fourth team and a new format make for some intriguing action in the 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship, which kicks off Wednesday evening.

With the addition of NASL side FC Edmonton, the championships have moved from a three-team, round-robin format to a four-team, knockout stage-style tournament. What hasn't changed is that the winner qualifies for the 2011-2012 CONCACAF Champions League.

Two-time defending champion Toronto FC will look to make it a three-peat and is matched up with newcomer Edmonton in the two-legged, aggregate-goal semifinals. MLS expansion side Vancouver Whitecaps and MLS expansion side-to-be Montreal Impact square off in the other semifinal. The winners meet in a two-legged final for the Voyageurs Cup.

Here is the schedule for the 2011 Canadian Championship:


Semifinals First Leg (April 27)

FC Edmonton vs. Toronto FC, 8 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium

Montreal Impact vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 8 p.m., at Stade Saputo

Semifinals Second Leg (May 4)

Toronto FC vs. FC Edmonton, 8 p.m., at BMO Field

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Montreal Impact, 11 p.m. at Empire Field

Finals First Leg (May 18)

Toronto/Edmonton vs. Vancouver/Montreal, TBA

Finals Second Leg (May 25)

Toronto/Edmonton vs. Vancouver/Montreal, TBA


Who do you see winning the Canadian Championship? Do you see Toronto FC winning for a third straight year? How do you think Edmonton will fare?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. uh no, montreal is. id be amazed if edmonton made it out of the NASL, they dont have teh support or the stadium and i dont think the ownership is going to throw up the necessary 40 whatever million

  2. In the name of sportsmanship, I believe Montreal–who were already eliminated–chose to rest their key players for a more important league match that weekend AGAINST Vancouver–one that actually meant something to them. It’s not like it was a conspiracy to hande TFC five extra goals. Teams around the world tied up in multiple competitions do this all the time.

  3. the real issue is canada making a play for the world cup in the same manner that the US did in 94, namely by promising a domestic league. its far fetched, but when did the US make such a promise? just 6 or 8 years after their 30team domestic league went belly up in 84? now that was really far fetched.

  4. Ouch.

    Didn’t you hear about the year Montreal decided to lay down on the pitch? Vancouver and TFC had identical records, and all Vancouver needed to win the damn thing was for Montreal to lose by 4 goals or less. And Montreal lost by 5 goals, 6-1 final score.

    To this day, it irritates me to no end that Montreal was so unsporting.

  5. Actually for the Open Cup there are only 8 MLS teams participating. I’d have to check the math, but I think each of those 8 MLS teams would have each have a better chance of qualifying for the Champions League than one of the Canadian teams.

  6. I’m not trying to be an as* but I seriously have no idea what kind of league you’re envisioning there. A separate Canadian league (let’s call is the Canadian Premier League again) where the teams play each other for half the season, and the other half of the season they play MLS clubs? What?

  7. Also I think you have to consider that if Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal were to leave and form their own Canadian league, you would have 4 spots left to fill to bring the league to 20 teams.

    So 4 teams out of the following: (the cities you said) Atlanta, Nashville, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Tampa, (plus some others I think deserve some consideration) San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Detroit, Orlando, Miami, North Carolina, Indianapolis, Baltimore, and NYC. All of them have their own strengths, and a lot of weaknesses, so basically what I’m arguing is the teams that you would replace them with aren’t nearly as good overall (ownership, fans, stadium) as either of the 3 Canadian teams.

  8. Also with Orlando the team has drawn 7,000+ for its first two home games and has Newcastle United and Bolton coming for Friendlies. Orlando is really making a push for MLS in the future. Lets see if they can keep it up.

  9. @lurking

    simple math:

    spots / number of teams

    US: 4 / 16 = 1 / 4
    CAN: 1 / 4 = 1 / 4

    How hard can it be to win one of 4 spots with only 16 teams*

    *I know that for the Open Cup, there’s more than 16 teams competing for it, but what are the chance of USL Pro teams of winning all. None, I hope.

  10. it will happen probably with 9 teams,as Canada will use such prospect as leverage for securing the world cup (as USA did in 94…promising a domestic league). the bid will probably be a joint can/us one, with can taking the lead. however, it will partially be a ploy with only half of the season played domestically and the other half with US teams. C’mon, if canada teams played each other 4 times a season nobody would show up for games 3 or 4….you’ve got to play LA & NY for excitement..and vice versa.

  11. I appreciate your well thought-out post and you make a lot of good points. I definitely do not dispute the fact that the Canadian teams in MLS are good for MLS from an economic and a support standpoint (they have good fans).

    In fact, thats why I maintain Canada could have a very successful Canadian-only league. Yes, it would have to stop at 10 or so but that would form a tight-knit league and basically would more or less form rivalries between every team (a lá how Celtic and Rangers play each other many times per year in 10-team SPL). Ive been so impressed by TFCs fans and Vancouver and Montreals fans that I really do feel that as long as other Canadian teams could have similar fan support, it would work.

    But I understand that a US-only league is a pipe dream and your point about small player pool is one I hadnt considered.
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  12. In ideal world I would agree with you since I would liked to see MLS teams in a lot of those Americans cities, but since it’s not an ideal world, a separate US (MLS) league and a separate Canadian top league(let’s call it the Canadian Premier League) will never happen. It’s probably as big of a pipe dream as Promotion/Relegation.

    (Not in any order of importance)
    1) Vancouver and Toronto just recently paid a pretty hefty expansion fee (as will Montreal next year). If USSF and MLS picked up their ball and said, “Ok you Canadians thanks for the all the money and attention we got from your TV deals and great attendance, but now go play nicely amongst yourselves”, you think Canadians clubs would agree to that?

    2) Like it or not, Canadians clubs are good for the MLS. They bring the league good attention and money.

    3) You kinda already talked about it but this a common thing in American sports leagues. The NBA and MLB have Toronto and the NHL has Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Toronto. So what if MLS has more Canadian teams than the NBA and MLB? Soccer is probably more popular in Canada than baseball and basketball, but less popular than hockey. So I feel like 2 (soon to be 3) teams is a good number. More than NBA and MLB, but less than NHL.

    4) If our hypothetical Canadian Premier League (CPL for short) was created, it would be like the CFL to MLS’s NFL. Why? All MLS clubs still rely heavily on the Superdraft. If there were separate leagues it’s not like there could be some kind of a simultaneous Superdraft going on. I’d imagine almost all college soccer players would want to play for MLS, and the CPL would just get the leftovers. Kinda like what happens with the NFL draft and the NFL and the CFL.

    5) Kinda similar to point 4, but the Canadian player pool isn’t big enough. Toronto and Vancouver only have a combined 14 Canadian players on their senior teams, and they’re are only 8 (9 if you count Bunbury) other Canadian players in the league. Montreal has 6 Canadian players and Edmonton has 18 Canadian players. But I doubt even half of those players are MLS quality.

    6) How many teams would this hypothetical CPL have? I’d say no more than 10. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Hamilton, London and one more city (Take your pick between (Kitchener, St. Catharines–Niagara, Oshawa, Halifax, Windsor, Regina or Saskatoon). Even having 10 teams is pushing it because Toronto, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, St. Catharines-Niagara, Oshawa, and Windsor are all within 1 to 2 hours of each other.

  13. Canadas never going to leave the MLS



    because we cant support a canadian league and chances are we wont. not a first division anyways in which TFC, Van and Montreal would want to compete in. As a result TFC, Van and Montreal (and all their support and money) are here to stay BWAHAHAHA deal with it!!!!!

    Any other team that rises in canada will most likely stay in the NASL.

    God i love it.

    Maybe focus on closing and moving teams with minimal support before ridding of ones that bring something significant to the league.

  14. Continuing with what Scooter said…because they are sanctioned by the CSA and not the USSF they obviously can’t compete in the US Open Cup, which is one way a USSF (MLS, NASL*, USL Pro, PDL, NPSL, or USASA) club can qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) .

    If the CSA were to use the MLS season to determine which Canadian team would qualify for the CCL, then their lower division teams (currently Montreal and Edmonton) wouldn’t get an opportunity to participate. Plus it’s not like a Canadian club is going to win the Supporter’s Shield or make it to the MLS Cup anytime, so they’d have to do it based on who had the better regular season record or who made it farther in the playoffs which is difficult and confusing because Vancouver and Toronto play in different conferences.

    So it’s easier and much more exciting for them to do it through the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

    Think of it as being similar to the US Open Cup. I do think that the CSA should allow some CSL, PDL, PCSL, and amateur club to compete.

    *Note: NASL not competing in the 2011 Open Cup

  15. You mean having at least one club from every country is a joke? Pretty soon all regions will be letting in teams from every country. Before long the NCAA tournament will let every conference have a team in march madness. Can’t we just have teams from Mexico and the US and crown them champions of the region since we know they would win anyways?

  16. Get a viable club at the D2 level first like Portland, Seattle and Montreal.

    Also, I’d prefer it if MLS had to go back into Florida that they go to Orlando since the Magic are the only competition plus they haven’t already failed in MLS like Tampa and Miami.

  17. Technically the Canadian clubs are sanctioned by the csa not the ussf. Day to day it doesn’t really matter but on some international issues it complicates things.

  18. Weird format since it will obviously favor the MLS sides. Why not still have a round robin? It’s only 4 teams for crying out loud.

  19. As for the NFL Toronto already is somewhat in, in that Buffalo plays some games in Toronto and that will increase. There would have been an NFL team in Toronto years ago if not for the political pressure due to the effect it might have on the CFL but the NFL has wanted a team there. It will happen in the next 5 years.
    anyway it’s market driven and Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto will draw large attendance – i think that’s the bottom line.

  20. It is what it is. Cali should have a team in San Diego, NYC should have a team.

    It’s not like MLS has been making bonehead decisions, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Montreal are teams that have existed for long periods.

    Pro teams have tried to make it work in Tampa, Miami, Atlanta, North Carolina…. but they aren’t successful.

    Dempsey and Holden grew up in Texas, where MLS has 2 teams (Holden played high school in Houston).

    Really the only place that I feel bad for is St. Louis.

  21. “However in the case of CONCAF Canadian clubs can’t qualify through US competitions so a Canada has to run its own qualification tournament”

    Interesting. I didn’t know this. Why can’t they qualify through U.S. competitions?

  22. America not American* (in the 2nd graf).
    two not too* (in the 5th graf)

    Also, the counterargument to mine is the Cardiff / Swansea argument. Two Welsh teams in England’s Football League. But those two teams chose to come to that league, and the Welsh league is far too weak/unpopular to maintain a notable reputation, which makes sense given its very small population.

    I happen to think the opposite is true with Canada. I think it could do more than OK with its own league. It would have to be small like Scotland’s league, but it would work

  23. Are they really North American in nature though?

    The NHL is the obvious example of your point with a large number of teams in Canada and American and pretty much in every market.

    But other leagues? MLB has 1 Canadian team, the Montreal / Puerto Rico experiment failed.

    NBA has 1 Canadian team.

    NFL, the most popular league in the country by far has zero Canadian teams (the CFL is quite popular by the way, if the NFL wanted to, it could afford to absorb and support a Canadian team or too).

    Plus there are zero Mexican teams in any of these pro-leagues, so I’m not sure how North American any of the leagues are.

    I’m not disputing the merits of having a draft or having playoffs, I realize those things are distinctly American and will remain. I’m disputing why there needs to be more and more Canadian teams added when 1-2 seems to be the right number in other pro leagues

  24. not going to happen – this is North America and sports are run differently than Europe/fifa – we have playoffs, we play in the summer, we have a draft and we have market driven North American teams.

  25. The US Open Cup is definitely a tougher test due to the sheer number of games, but the low quality of opponents in the early rounds really seems to dilute fan interest whole competition. Where as the Canadian Championship games have historically drawn crowds for every game in the competition.

    Their isn’t as much depth in the soccer pyramid in Canada so building a larger tournament would be hard. There are clubs competing in lower leagues in Canada that coudl be included in this competition(for example the clubs in Canadian Soccer League). However including them just to increase the size of the tournament bracket doesn’t make alot of sense.

    Canadian sports and media landscape is heavily influenced by the US, and for this readon Canada does not have its own domestic league for any professional sports (CFL excepted). Canadian teams have competed in american leagues for almost 100 years in a variety of sports, so why should soccer be any different.

    However in the case of CONCAF Canadian clubs can’t qualify through US competitions so a Canada has to run its own qualification tournament. In the past years the winner fo the Canadian Championship still had to win a play-in series vs team from Caribean or central america just to get in the main tournmanet bracket. Is that not the case this year? At any rate Canada seems as deserving of a place in the tournment as Costa Rica or Hondorous.

  26. How hard can it be to win hardware in a four team tournament? This is lame-o. Try winning something like the US Open Cup.

  27. That makes sense. Award MLS teams to places where USMNT players developed their skills. So if we ever get a few players on the national team from Fargo in the future, MLS should put a team there. Money talks, and MLS is only worried about what city is going to give them a potentially large financial return.

  28. try being a neighbor of Mexico! let’s see….annoying obese americans vs. drug cartel? enjoy your tournament. only 3 teams more before fifa says “start your own domestic league”

  29. Why are they lame? Because MLS is brutally uncreative when it comes to awarding new teams? You’re right, let’s add tons more Canadian teams. California only has 3 teams?? Give them a good 3 or 4 more. New York needs 3 more teams as well. Screw the Southwest and the Southeast. NO ONE likes soccer there at all!! It’s not like USMNT stars Clint Dempsey, Stuart Holden, and Ricardo Clark (who admittedly isn’t a star) played in the Southeast during college or youth development.

  30. Automatic qualification to CCL is an absolute joke.

    These are grown men. That automatic entry is like giving the chubby kid on your peewee team the “Participation Award”.

    This simply rewards mediocrity into a competition that we’re fighting tooth and nail to garner more respect and validity to.

  31. Automatic CCL qualification, check. Now they just need to get a few more teams on board, and they can start their own league! Freeing up U.S. markets in AMERICA’s domestic league.

    Atlanta, Nashville, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Tampa

  32. I’d like to see anybody but TFC win because TFC has no shot to do anything in the CCL or MLS for that matter. Hey look it’s Chad Barrat scoring goals, why does everyone do well after they leave TFC?

  33. It’s probably better off if TO doesn’t win it this year, we don’t need another distraction to get this team back on track!

  34. They do for Edmonton, but it’s more of a “League Cup” in the European sense than a national cup like the US Open Cup or the FA Cup where all teams from all levels can compete.


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