While the soccer nerds among us love the U.S. Open Cup for all its charm, history and potential for big upsets, the proceedings can sometimes miss a smidge of competitive bite. Major League Soccer teams, stars of the show, sometimes talk a big game when it comes to regard for this grand old tourney – but don’t always deliver when it comes to roster selection.
Now, if we talk about Canada … those teams really, really do care about their national championship. In addition to national pride, the winner gains Canada’s spot in CONCACAF Champions League.
Perhaps the comparison to U.S. Open Cup is a bit apples-to-oranges, but the point is the same: Canada’s four professional clubs are quite passionate about the brief Amway Canadian Championship competition, which annually crowns the best from our northern neighbors.
Montreal hosts Toronto in Wednesday’s second leg of their semifinal series; Ryan Nelsen’s visitors carry a 2-0 lead into tonight’s match at Stade Saputo.
In the other second leg contest, Vancouver host Edmonton at BC Place. Martin Rennie’s Whitecaps are in a strong position, holding a 3-2 lead after last week’s first leg at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
Word is emerging now on how year’s Canadian Championship will operate when a fifth side joins the tournament; A team from Ottawa is set join the NASL, the second tier of professional soccer in our parts, in 2014.
Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani told MLSSoccer.com that Edmonton and Ottawa will probably meet in a play-in series in 2014, with the winner advancing into the semifinals alongside the three MLS clubs (Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto).