For the first time ever, the battle of Ontario is getting a soccer edition. Toronto FC will face the Ottawa Fury in the Canadian Championship semi-finals, the first time the two clubs have met in a professional match.
The Fury clinched their semi-final spot tonight with a 3-2 win (4-2 on aggregate) over FC Edmonton. It is just the second time in club history they have reached this stage of the competition, with the first coming last season.
Ottawa gave the Vancouver Whitecaps all kinds of issues in last year’s semi-finals. They will be hoping they can cause Toronto similar problems when the two sides meet for their home-and-home series later this month. The first match will be played on May 23 in Ottawa, with the home leg taking place May 31 in Toronto.
TFC go into this year’s Voyageurs Cup as the defending champions. However, they still have something to prove after a CONCACAF Champions League restructure meant they lost their automatic berth in the competition. The winner of this year’s tournament will face TFC in a play-off for that spot, though Toronto can avoid that one-off match by successfully defending the trophy.
Ottawa are a USL side but still possess a number of quality players, including Canada internationals Jamar Dixon, Carl Haworth and Callum Irving. They have, however, struggled so far this season, with their six points leaving them level with TFC II.
What kind of roster Toronto fields for these games remains to be seen. With all the fixture congestion of late, it is perhaps unlikely that any of the club’s big stars take to the field. Instead, it could be a chance for a few young players to show their worth.