Vancouver Whitecaps FC, in association with the Canadian Soccer Association, Montréal Impact and Toronto FC, are pleased to announce a new six-match competition between the three professional clubs to determine Canada's 2008-09 entry in the new CONCACAF Champions League. The clubs will all play in a home-and-away round-robin tournament from May to July 2008. The winner will advance to the opening round of the inaugural 2008-09 season of the CONCACAF Champions League.
All three teams will play four games - two at home and two on the road. There will be three points awarded for a win and one point awarded for a draw. In case two teams are tied on points after four matches, the winner will be decided first by goal differential, then if necessary by most goals scored, then if necessary by most away goals, then if necessary by the drawing of lots.
The tournament kicks off on May 27 at the new Saputo Stadium in Montréal, as the Impact host Toronto FC. On June 17, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC will visit Montréal and on June 25, the Impact will play the return match at Swangard Stadium. The last three matches then take place in July: the Canada Day tilt between the Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC at BMO Field (July 1), the return match with Toronto FC visiting Vancouver (July 9), and the final match featuring the Impact at Toronto FC (July 22).
“This competition provides a unique opportunity for the professional clubs and the Canadian Soccer Association to showcase a high-level competition to our fans,” said Canadian Soccer Association chairman of the board Dominic Maestracci. “It will open the door for our best professional club to measure itself against the best clubs in CONCACAF.”
“The realization of a Canadian club represented at the CONCACAF Champions League is a huge step in the evolution of professional soccer in Canada,” said Vancouver Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “Canada's three professional clubs have never been stronger both on and off the field. This tournament will showcase the growth of the sport in Canada's three biggest markets. It's a great time to be a fan of the professional game in Canada.”
“Toronto FC is excited to compete in a national tournament that challenges our players and gives them an opportunity to develop their game at a another level,” said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Governor of Major League Soccer. “More importantly competitions such as this Canadian qualification tournament support our goal of motivating the next generation of Canada's soccer talent and show them that they have professional soccer teams to aspire too.”
“We are very excited as a club to participate in an event that will showcase soccer locally, nationally and internationally,” said Joey Saputo, president of the Montréal Impact and Saputo Stadium. “All three clubs have made great achievements in their respective local markets, but this is a unique opportunity to further promote the game of soccer throughout the country. Also, I truly want to underline the great spirit of cooperation that has surrounded this project since the clubs first initiated their discussions last October. When natural rivals such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal put their differences aside and come together for the good of the game, you know something exciting is going to happen.”
The CONCACAF Champions League - which will replace the existing eight-team CONCACAF Champions' Cup - will feature four clubs each from México and the United States, two clubs each from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, one club each from Canada, Belize, and Nicaragua, and three clubs from the Caribbean islands.
Sixteen of the 24 clubs - including Canada's entry - will take part in a preliminary home-and-away series in late August and early September. The preliminary round winners will join the other eight seeded teams in the group stage, which will consist of four groups of four. All the teams in each group will play each other in a round-robin system during six match dates (three home games, three away games) from September 16 to October 30.
The top two clubs from each group will advance to the knockout phase and play home-and-away elimination. The quarterfinals commence in February 2009, with the semifinals to begin in March. The Finals will take place in late April.
The CONCACAF Champions League winner will then qualify as the CONCACAF's representative for the 2009 edition of the FIFA Club World Cup.
Tickets for the qualifying matches at Swangard Stadium are available through Whitecaps mini-packs. Mini-packs are now on sale, starting at $74. Call 604.669.WAVE (9283) or CLICK HERE visit whitecapsfc.com/concacaf for more information.