Ottawa Fury FC captain Carl Haworth controls possession during his side's contest against A.S. Blainville in the 2018 Canadian Championship at TD Place. | Photo courtesy Steve Kingsman / Freestyle Photography / Canada Soccer
OTTAWA – The Canadian Soccer Association announced on Thursday the format for the 2019 Canadian Championship, with the USL Championship’s Ottawa Fury FC set to join the competition in the Third Qualifying Round of the five-round tournament that kicks off on May 15.
Fury FC will join the competition alongside Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the Third Qualifying Round, with defending champion Toronto FC earning a place in the Semifinals. The expanded event will feature 13 teams in 2019, including all seven members of the newly-formed Canadian Premier League and both the champions of League1 Ontario and the Première ligue du Soccer de Québec (PLSQ).
“The Canadian Championship has evolved into a true domestic cup competition with multiple levels of entrants all battling to secure a coveted Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League spot,” said Canada Soccer President Steven Reed. “We are proud to welcome seven teams as first-time entrants from League1 Ontario and the Canadian Premier League that join six returning teams in our 2019 Battle of the North.”
Each of the rounds will be contested in a home and away format with the winner being determined by the aggregate score over the two legs. In the event of a tie, away goals will be used to determine the winner. New for 2019, there will be no extra time with kicks from the penalty mark to be used at the end of the second leg to determine the winner.
The First Qualifying Round will be played on 15 and 22 May and will feature six teams drawn to determine the matchups. PLSQ winners AS Blainville and League1 Ontario winners Vaughan Azzurri will not be drawn against each other. The four Canadian Premier League teams that entered into Canada Soccer membership in 2018, Pacific FC, Cavalry FC, York9 FC and HFX Wanderers FC will join them in the First Qualifying Round. Only AS Blainville are returning to the competition while the other five teams are all making their Canadian Championship debut.
The Second Qualifying Round kicks off on 5 June with the return leg on 12 June and will feature the three First Qualifying Round winners, who will be matched up against Canadian Premier League clubs FC Edmonton, Forge FC, and Valour FC. Of note, FC Edmonton returns to the Canadian Championship as a member of the Canadian Premier League and as such are granted a bye to this round. They are joined by Forge FC and Valour FC by virtue of their entry to Canada Soccer as Professional Clubs in Membership in 2017.
The Third Qualifying Round will kick off on 10 and 24 July, with Fury FC, the Impact and Whitecaps FC set to square off against the winners from the Second Qualifying Round. The three winners from that round will advance to the Semifinals, where Toronto FC will be waiting to start the defense of its title on the 7 and 14 August.
The two Semifinal winners will then advance to the Final Round which will be contested in a home and away series on 18 and 25 September. The winner of the tournament will claim the Voyageurs Cup, and a place in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League.