The romance of the cup. A setting for a famous victory. Expect the unexpected.
Cup soccer is unique. There is something about competitions with a knockout style format that raise the bar. Tensions are heightened. One mistake can lead to elimination and one moment of brilliance can lead to glory. Unless you’ve been outfoxed by Leicester over the course of a season, tournament soccer offers something that the grind of the league cannot – a chance for the little guy to make history, and an opportunity for a smaller club to grab silverware.
Many clubs around the world don’t take their domestic cup competitions seriously. The prestige of the league, the pitfalls of relegation, and the financial implications involved, often force those clubs to treat their cup as second class. Some clubs field reserve sides in order not to affect league form, secretly hoping not to advance, dispatching the nuisance and getting back to the task at hand.
Although it has lost much of its lustre over the years, The FA Cup is still the best representation of a domestic tournament. It has value. Whether it be its long history, or the fact that every English club in its pyramid participates, it is a competition to be admired and respected. It’s the gold standard. Something to emulate.
Our domestic cup competition, The Canadian Championship, has a few detractors. Those that criticize it often give the same argument – How can I take it seriously if the competition only has 5 teams? Historically, not much could’ve been done about that because the 3 MLS and 2 NASL sides were all that we had on a valid professional level. But that is about to change.
The CSA has just announced, that in 2018, the tournament will expand to include the winners from League1 Ontario and the Premiere Ligue de Soccer du Quebec. These clubs currently are considered D3 level, one step below the NASL. They are a nice addition to the competition, and will help legitimize the CC by showing that the tournament is inclusive to the different levels in our soccer hierarchy. A nice gesture.
But this is just the beginning.
The inevitable arrival of the Canadian Premier League will truly add another dimension. It will do much more than just develop talent for our national team and give us a concrete D2 option for our aspiring young professionals. It will inject life into the CC and make it a true competition of the Canadian soccer pyramid.
This metaphorical shot in the arm could reveal itself in many forms, depending on how many CPL teams are created. Would the 2 Canadian NASL teams join the CPL in the early stages? Will the MLS clubs enter the tournament in the later rounds? Would there be home and away fixtures with an aggregate score? Or even a lottery draw for one match with the potential for replays? The possibilities are endless.
Imagine Quebec City vs The Montreal Impact? Victoria vs The Vancouver Whitecaps? Kitchener – Waterloo vs Hamilton? FC Edmonton vs Calgary?
Toronto FC vs The Toronto Blizzard on a Wednesday night in May at a hostile Lamport Stadium? Yes please!
While we’re at it, a total rebranding of the CC to compliment the new structure. The tournament is the trophy. Let’s call it what it is and deserves to be.
The Voyageurs Cup.
By William Jamieson