TORONTO, Canada—The 2020 Canadian Championship between Forge FC and Toronto FC has been postponed, Canada Soccer announced today.
While the game was to be played on March 20 at BMO Field, an outbreak of multiple positive COVID-19 cases at Toronto FC training camp earlier this week (and Forge’s inability to return to training) has indeed put a dent into those plans.
“Through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions put in place to ensure the health and safety of Canadian citizens, the revised schedules for the two finalists from different leagues, including the Concacaf League, did not provide any reasonable opportunity for the Canadian Championship Final to be played in 2020,” wrote Canada Soccer in a press release Thursday afternoon.
“Forge FC is still not able to return to full training and as such the agreement reached will see Toronto FC face Club León at Estadio León on Wednesday 7 April in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16.”
Forge FC, of course, had yet to receive permission from government officials to begin training. In exchange for allowing Toronto FC to advance, the Hamilton-based club will host the 2020 Canadian Championship Final at a later date.
“Canada Soccer looks forward to hosting the Canadian Championship Final at Tim Hortons Field and celebrating the achievements of both clubs with their fans in the stands in a safe manner. Eventually, we will crown a Battle of the North champion and award the Voyageurs Cup for the 2020 season, said Dr. Nick Bontis, President, Canada Soccer. “We recognise that the past year has been difficult for Canadians and applaud the valiant efforts of all public health authorities including the Government of Ontario, Forge FC and Toronto FC in support of hosting the Canadian Championship Final. All parties have agreed to coordinate the future scheduling of the 2020 final in a true show of collaborative sportsmanship.”
With an international break set for the last week of March, there simply wasn’t enough time to squeeze the match in before April 6—the start of the CONCACAF Champions League. As a result, Toronto FC will earn automatic entry into that tournament, where they’ll face Liga MX side Club Leon in a two-legged affair beginning April 7 in Mexico.
The expectation is that the return leg will be played somewhere in Florida, with Toronto FC kicking off the 2021 MLS season on April 17.
The news is obviously disappointing for Canadian soccer fans, as many were looking forward to a local David and Goliath showdown. The match would’ve been the first final ever played between an Canadian Premier League side and an MLS side. Hopefully we’ll still get to see the highly-anticipated encounter sooner rather than later, even if the stakes aren’t as high.