With the schedule for next year’s Amway Canadian Championship released last week, fans have had a few days to contemplate what the tournament will look like in its new, expanded format.
Of course, that new format just means going from four teams to five, as Ottawa Fury FC are set to enter the fray. But while the tournament’s growth has been slow and steady during its six-year existence, could we one day see a Canadian Championship that resembles the US Open Cup, in terms of size and scope?
“Yeah, I think it’s a must,” Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani told MLSsoccer.com in a recent interview. "I think we need to strive for that."
Montagliani says such expansion won’t happen in 2014 or 2015, but he insists that expanding the base of professional teams in Canada is vital to the long-term success of Canadian players – and the men’s national team.
“[It would be] a sign of the growth of the game where we get to the point where more Canadian professional clubs, or even semi-pro teams, have the opportunity to access the Canadian Championship," he said.
With the CSA earlier this year endorsing a recommendation to look into a regional, semi-pro development-focused league across the country, there could be a slew of potential new competitors for the Voyageurs Cup in the years ahead.
That raises the question of what a further-expanded Canadian Championship would look like. In 2014, Ottawa will face FC Edmonton to determine who joins the three MLS clubs in the tournament semifinals. But how would the competition look with six teams? Or eight, 12 or even 24?
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” said Montagliani. “Every country has a different format for their cups. But yes, I think it’s a must, not just ‘Let’s hope it happens.’ I think it’s a must for something like that to come to fruition in Canada.”