VANCOUVER, BC – What exactly is the Amway Canadian Championship and how does it differ from Major League Soccer competition?
That might be a question some fans have this week, with Vancouver Whitecaps FC set to play their first Canadian Championship match of 2014 on Wednesday against Toronto FC.
Here’s a primer on the tournament and what it all means for Whitecaps FC.
Formed in 2008, the Canadian Championship is a Canadian Soccer Association-sanctioned competition between each of Canada’s professional soccer teams. It started as a three-team tournament between Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal Impact, but North American Soccer League sides FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury FC are now also participants.
Montreal won the first edition of the tournament as well as the most recent one, defeating Whitecaps FC in the 2013 final on aggregate. Toronto FC are the most successful team in the competition with four titles. The ‘Caps, meanwhile, are still searching for their first championship after finishing as the runners-up in five straight years.
The winner of the tournament claims the Voyageurs Cup as the top professional Canadian club. Though this tournament has only been in existence since 2008, the Voyageurs Cup has a longer history, dating back to 2002. A trophy created by Canadian supporters group the Voyageurs, the Cup was formerly awarded to the top Canadian team playing in the second division.
Canadian Championship results have no bearing on the MLS standings. Rather, the winning team, in addition to claiming the Voyageurs Cup, earns Canada’s lone entry into the CONCACAF Champions League – a 24-team competition between the top clubs from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
The winner of the CONCACAF Champions League then qualifies for the annual FIFA Club World Cup, where they compete against the top teams from Asia, Africa, South America, Oceana, and Europe.
Budesliga giants Bayern Munich are the reigning Club World Cup champions.
In each round of the Canadian Championship, teams play a two-legged home-and-home series. The team that scores the greater number of goals away from home advances if scores are otherwise equal.
Canadian Championship seeding is determined by the final standing of the three MLS clubs in league play the previous year. As the Canadian Championship switches to a new summer timeframe, the MLS team ranked highest in league points at the end of this season will also earn entry into the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League.
2014 AMWAY CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Whitecaps FC enter this year’s competition as the second seed, after finishing a point shy of Montreal in 2013. The ‘Caps will meet third-seeded Toronto FC in the first leg of the semifinal on Wednesday, before returning to BC Place for the second leg on May 14.
On the other end of the bracket, FC Edmonton and the defending champion Montreal Impact are set to meet in the semifinal after Edmonton knocked out newcomer Ottawa Fury FC in last month’s preliminary round.
The first leg of the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship final will take place on May 28 (or May 27 if Whitecaps FC plays at home), and the second leg will be played on June 4.
Whitecaps FC 2014 season tickets start at just $349, subject to applicable fees. The 'Caps are also offering a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.