The Voyageurs Cup: Now With Extra CanCon!
A new year doesn’t just mean a new MLS season, it also means it’s time for another Voyageurs Cup! That’s right boys and girls, your favourite Canadian footy tournament is almost upon us and there are a few changes for both this year and next. Before we get into all of that, here’s the schedule so that you can start planning:
2017 Qualifying Round
3 May Ottawa Fury FC v FC Edmonton
10 May FC Edmonton v Ottawa Fury FC
2017 Semi-final Rounds
23 May (Qualifying Round winner) v Toronto FC
23 May Vancouver Whitecaps FC v Impact Montréal FC
30 May Impact Montréal FC v Vancouver Whitecaps FC
31 May Toronto FC v (Qualifying Round winner)
2017 Championship Final
20/21 June First leg between Semi-Final winners
* Should Montreal make the Final this match will be played on June 21
27 June Second leg between Semi-Final winners
Playoff (if necessary)
9 August Toronto FC vs 2017 winner (if not TFC)
Winning team advances to 2018 CCL
OK so here are the things you need to know:
- In a move to get more Canadian into the Canadian Championship, each team must include at least three Canadian players in their starting lineup for each game.
- Next year the winning teams from League1 Ontario and Première Ligue de soccer du Québec will be included in the tournament.
- And as noted above, should Toronto FC not win the Voyageurs Cup this year, they will have to play the winner (at BMO Field), in a one-off game to determine who goes to the 2018 Concacaf Champions League.
The first two points are both positives; Canadian players getting more playing time is always a good thing (Ashtone Morgan this is your time to shine!), and getting the lower leagues involved next year is fantastic news. Proponents and supporters of the (still in name only) CPL may be wondering why there’s no mention of including teams from the new league in the competition (though surely that must be in the works). I’ll speculate that since the league hasn’t yet been officially formed, the CSA is reluctant to give them a placeholder spot, for now. However should things change in the near future, I’d imagine that they’ll do everything they can to include team(s) from the new league.
However let’s look at that last point a little more shall we? On one hand it’s hilarious, and just crazy enough to keep the randomness of the VCup going for another year. On the other hand…what the hell?! Toronto FC won the Voyageurs Cup (and Will “Legend” Johnson broke his leg), which gets you a spot in the Concacaf Champions League, and yet they don’t advance?! To say that this is frustrating is an understatement – I don’t see how fans, and the team itself, can be anything other than angry at this development. It feels like a wasted year (or wasted games, minutes, broken leg, and so on) for Toronto FC – did the CSA and TFC know about this when the CCL changes were being put into place? I would love to hear some further clarification or explanation from the CSA on this, and hope that they do so in the coming days. I look forward to when this tournament has grown into something that is a little more immune to such randomness.
The other thing to note or takeaway from this year’s Voyageurs Cup is that it adds two additional games to an already packed May for TFC. Between the last weekend in April (the 28th) and the first week in June (the 3rd), Toronto FC already have eight games (six in May alone) – the addition of the two Voyageurs Cup games will mean ten games in five weeks for TFC. Now more games means a lot of squad rotation and on the bright side it means lots of minutes for Canadian and fringe players, on the less than positive side it means a team stretched thin for an extended period of time. However, it is early(ish) in the season, and far enough away from the break for the Gold Cup that the team should have lots of available players, and not dealing with the fatigue that a long season brings.
Other than all of the wackiness I’m excited for Voyageurs Cup games; they are among some of my favourite memories as a TFC fan and I genuinely look forward to the competition each year. The vibe is different for VCup games, it helps to add to the rivalry between the Canadian clubs, it more often than not a chance to see some of the Canadian kids from the reserve or PDL teams, and damn it they’re just fun! So another year of Voyageurs Cup silliness is about to begin – see you in May.