Soccer in Canada is growing faster than ever, and with the inclusion of teams from the Canadian Premier League, League1 Ontario and Première Ligue de soccer du Québec in this year’s Canadian Championship competition — Canada’s domestic trophy — there has never been more Canadian cities fighting for the honour to hoist the Voyageurs Cup.
With the 2021 Final set to take place on Sunday between CF Montreal and Toronto FC, here’s a look back on how we got there.
What a night for this sport in this country.— Adam Jenkins (@adamkjenkins) August 27, 2021
Here is the updated #CanChamp bracket after @Pacificfccpl punched their ticket to the Quarterfinal round against Cavalry with a win over @WhitecapsFC pic.twitter.com/9FfPFe2MEu
Calvary FC 2/FC Edmonton 0
The 2021 preliminary rounds started off in August, beginning with the battle of Alberta: FC Edmonton and Calvary FC at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton. Calvary took a lead into halftime with Joseph Mason scoring in the 31st minute. Calvary would later score again in the 62nd minute thanks to a Ben Fisk goal.
A.S. Blainville 1/HFX Wanderers 2
A.S. Blainville entered the competition for the first time as the winners of the Première Ligue de soccer du Québec and were matched with seventh place HFX Wanderers of the CPL. The Wanderers took an early lead in the 10th minute after Cory Bent found the back of the net from a corner kick. A.S. Blainville managed to get back into the game after the Wanderers gave up a penalty shot in the 51st minute with Guy Essome finding the equalizer. The Wanderers were then gifted a penalty shot of their own in the 72nd minute as Joao Morelli was able to step up and give his team the lead and the win.
Master’s Football Academy 0/York United 5
As winners of League1 Ontario, Master’s Football Academy, based in Scarborough, entered the tournament for the first time and went head-to-head with fellow GTA residents York United of the CanPL at York United Stadium. York held possession for the majority of the game, but it wasn’t until the 38th minute when Max Ferrari capitalized to give the home team the lead. The floodgates then flew open as goals from Osvaldo Ramirez, Jordan Wilson, and a brace from Julian Ulbricht led to the blowout victory.
Valour FC 3/Atletico Ottawa 2
Another match in the preliminary rounds saw Atlético Ottawa make their debut against fellow CPL counterparts Valour FC. Brian Wright got the match off to a good start for the home side after finding the back of the net to give Ottawa an early lead, but Sean Rea then managed to tie things up in the 30th minute before Austin Ricci then gave Valour a 2-1 lead in the 60th minute. Three minutes later, Ricci doubled his tally with Victor Martinez rounding out the scoring for Ottawa, but it was too little too late.
Vancouver Whitecaps 3/Pacific FC 4
The last game to be played in the preliminary rounds was the best of the bunch: a battle of the west between Pacific FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
In a game that saw seven goals in total, Pacific FC came away with the victory, upsetting the Western Canada favourites. Pacific FC took an early lead thanks to a Terran Campbell penalty kick, but it didn’t take long for Vancouver to equalize via Ryan Gauld. In the 28th minute, Manny Aparicio restored Pacific’s lead and Joshua Heard made it 3-1. Just three minutes later, Gauld found the back of the net for a second time in the match to bring Vancouver back within one, but Alejandro Diaz put the game virtually out of reach in the 75th minute, restoring Pacific’s two-goal lead.
Valour FC 1/Forge FC 2
The first match of the quarter finals saw 2020 CanPL winners Forge FC taking on Valour FC at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton. Forge FC dominated the first half, but it wasn’t until the 33rd minute when David Choiniere fired home a shot to give Forge a 1-0 lead. Just five minutes later, Woobens Pacius gave Forge a 2-0 lead. Valour FC got on the board in the 60th minute when Austin Ricci sent a shot into the back of the net to get within a goal, but Forge FC held on for the one-goal win.
CF Montreal 3/HFX Wanderers 1
Current Voyageurs Cup holders CF Montreal made their 13th appearance in the Canadian Championship taking on HFX Wanderers in Halifax on September 22. The MLS side were briefly stunned by Cory Bent, who opened the scoring for HFX with a gorgeous goal in the 27th minute. A few minutes later, however, Matko Miljevic tied things up with a goal of his own.
The match remained tied until the dying minutes when Ballou Tabla came off the bend and managed to find the top corner with a strike to give Montreal the lead. Tabla again found the back of the net shortly after to secure a spot for CF Montreal in the semifinals.
York United 0/Toronto FC 4
Seven-time winner Toronto FC took on fellow city rivals York United at BMO Field later that evening with goals from Jonathan Osorio, Ifunanyachi Achara, Yeferson Soteldo and Noble Okello propelling the Reds to an easy 4-0 win on a rainy night along the Lakeshore.
Pacific FC 0/Calvary FC 1
Calvary FC hosted Pacific FC in a battle of the last two remaining Western Canadian teams in the tournament. Terran Campbell scored the only goal in a 1-0 Pacific victory, after finding the top corner in the 33rd minute. Calvary FC tried to battle their way back with countless opportunities, but were unsuccessful.
CF Montreal 0(8)/Forge FC 0(7)
Forge FC found themselves taking on their first-ever MLS opponent in CF Montreal in the semifinals, and in a highly contested battle between two evenly matched teams, no one managed to find the back of the net in regular time. With no goals to settle the side after 90 minutes, the two teams headed straight to penalties. After 10 rounds, the penalty shootout came down to the two goalkeepers: Triston Henry of Forge FC and Sebastian Breza of CF Montreal. Breza saved the penalty from Henry, and then turned around and scored his own penalty to win the match for Montreal, sending them to their seventh ever appearance in the Canadian Championship Final.
Pacific FC 1/Toronto FC 2
Pacific entered BMO Field on November 3 hoping to be the second-ever CPL team to reach the finals after Forge FC earned the honours 2020 (sort of?). But after Jozy Altidore and Jacob Shaffelburg found goals early on for Toronto FC, Pacific were left trying to claw back in for the remainder of the game. It wasn’t until the 83rd minute when Alejandro Diaz managed to get his side within one, but with all the effort they showed to get back into the game, Toronto FC held onto the win and will play in the final for the 12th time in club history.
2021 Canadian Championship— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) November 19, 2021
13 teams, 4 leagues, 1 Voyageurs Cup. #CanChamp Final #TFCLive v #CFMontreal 21 November 1 p.m. ET 10 a.m. PT - Stade Saputo, Montreal, QC. https://t.co/0b3cfydJKt pic.twitter.com/rUnD6LVWM0
The 401 Derby has been on record the best soccer rivalry in the country. The joy, the passion and the entertainment in these matches is sure to be felt in the Final on Sunday. If this year is any indication on how the match on Sunday lines up, CF Montreal have the advantage with a 8-4 goal differential and a 2-0-1 win record in three games between the two sides. The 2021 tournament which saw 13 teams, within four leagues, comes to a close Sunday with one team lifting the Voyageurs Cup.
The final gets underway at 1 pm ET at Stade Saputo and can be seen on OneSoccer.