After the Montreal Impact beat Toronto FC in last year’s Canadian Championship final, Waking the Red’s Mitchell Tierney described the 2019 edition of the tournament as “the best yet”.
The bracket for the 2020 edition of the tournament was only revealed on Wednesday afternoon, but it already has the potential to be even better.
After the Ottawa Fury folded recently, there’s only 12 teams this year — the three MLS teams (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver), the seven Canadian Premier League teams (Pacific, FC Edmonton, Cavalry, Valour, York9, Forge and HFX Wanderers), as well as Premier Ligue du Quebec (PLSQ) champions AS Blainville and League1 Ontario winners Masters Futbol Academy.
In an effort to reduce travel, Canada Soccer split the tournament into an east vs. west format, with the only exception being Forge FC playing with the western teams. With that, comes the potential for several tasty quarterfinal matchups, some of which would be played for the first time.
The left side of the bracket features five CPL teams, as well as the Vancouver Whitecaps. If one of the CPL teams can knock out the Whitecaps, we’ll also see a CPL team in the final for the first time.
#1 — Toronto FC vs York9 FC - Quarter-Finals
When York9 FC was unveiled ahead of the Canadian Premier League’s inaugural season, people already got excited about the potential for a match against Toronto FC. In 2020, that very well could happen. Toronto FC have a bye to the quarter-final, while York9 have to face League1 Ontario champions Masters Futbol Academy in the qualifying round.
On paper, York9 should win that tie, which would set up the first-ever “Toronto derby”. There are a few Y9 players who came from Toronto FC and the TFC Academy, and a number of fans support both clubs, so this matchup would be interesting both on the pitch and in the stands.
#2 — Montreal Impact vs AS Blainville - Quarter-Finals
Another potentially exciting match in the quarter-finals would be PLSQ winners AS Blainville taking on the Montreal Impact.
Blainville is a suburb of Montreal, and AS Blainville’s stadium, Parc Blainville, is less than an hour away from the Impact’s Saputo Stadium. It would also be the first time in Canadian Championship history that two teams from Quebec square off.
Montreal have a bye to the quarter-final, but AS Blainville have to go through CPL side HFX Wanderers, who finished last in the CPL standings last season. HFX still have a lot of work to do with in regards to roster-building ahead of 2019 after not re-signing 16 players from their inaugural season, but as the professional side, they will still be expected to win.
#3 — Vancouver Whitecaps vs Pacific FC - Quarter-Finals
If Pacific FC beat FC Edmonton in their qualifying round matchup, they’ll face off with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps got a bye to the quarter-final stage, like their fellow MLS teams, so if Pacific win, they’ll set up the first-ever all-British Columbia series in Canadian Championship history.
This could also mark a return to BC Place Stadium for Pacific’s Marcel de Jong, who joined the Whitecaps in 2016 and stayed until joining the CPL club in early 2019.
#4 — Cavalry FC vs Forge FC - Quarter-Finals
Cavalry FC won both the Spring and Fall Seasons in the inaugural Canadian Premier League campaign, but missed out on the “CPL treble” after losing the CPL Finals... to Forge FC. The two went head-to-head all season long, including a fiery Canadian Championship game in Hamilton in June.
Cavalry FC received a bye to the quarter-finals because they were the CPL team that got the furthest in last year’s Canadian Championship tournament. Forge will enter at the qualifying round and need to get past Valour FC for this scenario to become a reality.
#5 — Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC - Semifinals
Both of these teams have a bye to the quarter-finals, and could meet in the semifinal. In what would be a rematch of the 2019 final, which was won by the Impact, it would require Toronto FC to go through either York9 FC or Masters Futbol Academy, and the Impact to beat either AS Blainville or HFX Wanderers.
The 401 Derby seems like a likely outcome on paper, with one of them ending up in the final for the 13th year in a row, but the game isn’t played on paper, so only time will tell who makes it to the semifinal on the “eastern” side of the bracket.
#6 — Montreal Impact vs York9 FC - Semifinals
One of the best matchups of the 2019 Canadian Championship was between York9 FC and the Montreal Impact in the Third Qualifying Round.
After beating AS Blainville and FC Edmonton, York9 became the first CPL side to host an MLS side in the Canadian Championship, hosting the Impact at York Lions Stadium. They drew 2-2 at home after conceding a late penalty, and lost 1-0 in Montreal to fall 3-2 on aggregate.
If York had gone into Montreal up 2-1, as they were moments away from doing, they might have advanced to the semifinal, where they would’ve faced Cavalry FC in an all-CPL semifinal, which in turn would’ve given us the first Canadian Championship finalist from the CPL.
A rematch between York9 and the Impact would be exciting, especially if The Nine Stripes beat Toronto FC to get there.
#7 — Vancouver Whitecaps vs Cavalry FC - Semifinals
One of the biggest stories of the inaugural Canadian Premier League season was when red-hot Cavalry FC knocked the Vancouver Whitecaps out of the Canadian Championship in the Third Qualifying Round.
After York9 were beaten by the Impact 1-0 (3-2 on aggregate) hours earlier, Cavalry went into B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver and walked away with a famous 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Jordan Brown and Dominick Zator, taking the tie 2-1 on aggregate.
Cavalry were knocked out in the next round by the eventual champions, the Montreal Impact, but beating Vancouver was one of defining moments in the CPL’s inaugurral campaign.
For this to happen, Vancouver would have to beat either Pacific or Edmonton in one quarter-final, while Cavalry would have to beat Forge or Valour in the other.
#8 — Toronto FC vs Forge FC - Final
A lot would have to happen for this to happen, of course, but a two-legged final between teams in Toronto and Hamilton is mouth-watering stuff.
With both clubs playing in massive stadiums (TFC’s BMO Field holds just over 30,000 for soccer, and Forge’s Tim Hortons Field holds around 23,000), we would likely see record numbers of away fans in the Canadian game.
With just 45 minutes separating the two stadiums, and the fact that both clubs have traveled well in the past, this has the potential to be the best Canadian Championship final ever, on and off the pitch.
The odds of it happening are slim, but if it were to happen, it would be a good one.
Which matchup(s) would you like to see in 2020, and who do you think will win it all? Let us know in the comment section.