Canada now knows their road to the World Cup on home soil in 2015. It is a road that began long ago but the actual matches will begin when Canada takes to the field in Edmonton on Saturday, June 6 kicking off the World Cup at the scene of their impressive run in the 2002 U19 World Cup.
After the opener on the 6th Canada will remain in Edmonton for a second match on Thursday, June 11 before moving East to wrap up group play. Canada's final match in group A will take place in Montreal on Monday, June 15 while the other group A game takes place in Winnipeg at the same time.
After that Canada's schedule becomes a bit less clear so all we can do is run through the possible routes that they would take based on their finishing position in Group A. We can throw out finishing third or fourth as that would be the end of the road.
If Canada finishes second in their group they would head back to Edmonton for a Round of 16 game on Saturday, June 20. Win that match and it would be on to a Quarterfinal match in Ottawa on Friday, June 26 (this is the only chance they play in Ottawa). Another win would set up a Semifinal in Montreal on Tuesday, June 30 and then a potential final in Vancouver on Sunday, July 5.
Finish first in the group and the road takes a slightly different path as that Round of 16 game would then take place on Sunday, June 21 in Vancouver. The Quarterfinal would also be in Vancouver on Saturday, June 27. Win that and they would head to a semifinal in Edmonton on Wednesday, July 1 followed by the final which would still be in Vancouver on the 5th.
So in case you have been keeping score it means that Winnipeg and Moncton don't even stand a chance of hosting Canada no matter how things play out. Pity poor Winnipeg, that doesn't get anything beyond the group games, Moncton does at least get a round of 16 game. Instead, Edmonton and Montreal are guaranteed to see Canada during the group stage and along with Vancouver will be the central venues for the event.
It comes with little surprise that the final would be held at BC Place considering the impressive showing from fans when the same venue hosted the CONCACAF Championships in early 2012. It is also among the largest and most up to date of all the host venues so makes a fitting choice.
The two semifinals going to Montreal and Edmonton (Edmonton also gets the third place game) is another decision that makes perfect sense due to the sizes of the venues and the potential fan turnouts. All of the games that are likely to draw big crowds at this event are now going to be in stadiums that are equipped to handle the largest possible crowds while the smaller matches will be contested in the smaller venues.
The one knock of the host venues for all of these big games is that Edmonton, Vancouver, and Montreal all have stadiums that do not include natural grass which means the events biggest matches will either be played on an artificial surface or on temporary grass which is far from ideal.
With the rest of the teams in the event yet to be known it is hard to plan all of your travels around interesting games but for Toronto area fans that group stage match in Montreal should be the one you circle on your calender and try you best to attend.
Canada hosting a World Cup from coast to coast is a massive event and it is up to fans in this country to ensure we live up to that billing.
For the full schedule you can find a .pdf from FIFA here.