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Report: Provincial Champions to Play in Voyageurs Cup as Early as 2017

The Canadian championship could be expanding by as early as 2017, adding the winner of Quebec's provincial league.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

How can the Voyageurs Cup become a more exciting competition? It is a debate that has been had ever since the tournament expanded to three teams with the inclusion of Toronto FC. The tournament has had its moments: Toronto FC's miraculous 6-1 over the Montreal Impact or a 1-1 draw between the two sides the previous year that saw the then USL-1 Impact take home the crown.

But even with a new five-team format, the competition has gone a little bit stale. Attendance figures for Voyageurs Cup matches are usually poor compared to regular season MLS and NASL matches. The MLS sides rarely play their top players. There has never really been an upset in the competition either, although FC Edmonton has come painfully close.

However, it appears plans to expand the competition are already in the works. In an interview with RDS, Premiere Ligue de Soccer du Quebec (PLSQ) commissioner Kambiz Ebadi said that the CSA is working on how to include the provincial league in the tournament's format.

He says that they are hoping this will be done in the next few years, and could be completed as early as next year's tournament. The winner of the PLSQ championship would be given a berth in the competition.

The 2016 Canadian Championship is set to kick off on May 11 with a preliminary round match between FC Edmonton and the Ottawa Fury. The winner of their two-legged series will play the Vancouver Whitecaps in one June semi-final while Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact will meet in the other. The winners will play in the late June tournament final.

Where a provincial champion like that of the PLSQ would factor in the process remains to be seen. One would assume, although it was not confirmed, that the champions of League 1 Ontario would also be included in the tournament. As of right now, it would make sense to have each of them face off against NASL opposition prior to the preliminary round.

There is another question in all of this as well: the Canadian league. While few details have been released on the league since it was confirmed by the CSA, all signs point to the fact that it is moving forward as planned. This would mean several new clubs in the tournament, and likely a completely new format.

Nonetheless, adding more teams in the Voyageurs Cup will only be better for competition and quality. The more sides involved, the more meaningful winning the trophy will become.