Whitecaps looking to three-peat at five-league Canadian Championship

Vancouver Whitecaps' Russell Teibert, centre left, and Ryan Gauld, centre right, hoist the Voyageurs Cup after Vancouver defeated CF Montreal 2-1 during the Canadian Championship soccer final, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, June 7, 2023. (CP)

TORONTO — Fourteen clubs, including three newcomers, will take part in the 2024 Canadian Championship, a four-round competition set to kick off in April.

The winner hoists the Voyageurs Cup and advances to the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the region’s elite men’s club competition.

The 19-game tournament features clubs from five leagues: Major League Soccer, Canadian Premier League, League1 BC, League1 Ontario and Ligue1 Quebec.

The defending champion Vancouver Whitecaps and 2023 runner-up CF Montreal will receive first-round byes to the tournament. The remaining 12 teams will take part in a single-match preliminary round divided into West and East brackets for games between April 23 and May 1.

The six winners will join Vancouver and Montreal in the two-legged May quarterfinals. The semifinals will also be home-and-away affairs, with the first leg scheduled for July 9-10 and the return leg Aug. 27-28.

The championship game will be a single match Sept. 24 or 25.

The competition draw is scheduled for Feb. 23. Another draw will be held to determine semifinal matchups and host for the final.

The field includes the semi-pro Victoria Highlanders FC (League1 BC), CS St-Laurent (Ligue1 Quebec) and Simcoe County Rovers (League1 Ontario).

Second-half goals by Brian White and Ryan Gauld helped the Whitecaps defend their 2022 title with a 2-1 win over Montreal in the 2023 final before an announced crowd of 20,072 B.C. Place Stadium on June 7.

Canada Soccer is using a club ranking Index for the first time to determine hosting duties for the preliminary through semifinal rounds. The index is based on the last three editions of the competition (2021, 2022, 2023), with the 2023 edition weighted the heaviest.

The preliminary draw will place clubs in the following pots:

Western Clubs (3): Pacific FC, Vancouver FC, Cavalry FC.

Western Non-Hosting Clubs (2): Valour FC, Victoria Highlanders FC.

x-Eastern Clubs (5): Forge FC, York United FC, Atletico Ottawa, Toronto FC, Halifax Wanderers.

East Semi-Pro Clubs (2): Simcoe County Rovers, CS St-Laurent.

(x- denotes one club from the Eastern clubs pot will be drawn over to the West to balance the pots, to ensure six clubs in both the East and West brackets. The club drawn from the East pot into the West group will automatically play Valour FC, the Eastern-most club in the West group, in the preliminary round.)

Semi-pro clubs are ineligible to play against one another in the preliminary round, which will see the highest-ranked club will host the single match. For the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, the lower-ranked club will host the first leg with the higher-ranked club staging the return leg.

Semi-professional clubs are raked No. 12 through 14 with the ranking assigned to the respective league rather than to a club. The ranking index will not be used to determine the host of the championship game.

Ranking Index

1. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

2. CF Montreal

3. Toronto FC

4. Pacific FC

5. Forge FC

6. York United FC

7. Cavalry FC

8. HFX Wanderers FC

9. Atletico Ottawa

10. Valour FC

11. Vancouver FC

12. Victoria Highlanders FC (League1 BC)

13. CS St-Laurent (Ligue1 Quebec)

14. Simcoe County Rovers (League1 Ontario)

Past Winners

2023: Vancouver Whitecaps

2022: Vancouver Whitecaps

2021: CF Montreal

2020 (played in 2022 due to the pandemic): Toronto FC

2019: Montreal Impact

2018: Toronto FC

2017: Toronto FC

2016: Toronto FC

2015: Vancouver Whitecaps

2014: Montreal Impact

2013: Montreal Impact

2012: Toronto FC

2011: Toronto FC

2010: Toronto FC

2009: Toronto FC

2008: Montreal Impact

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