With the 3rd round of the Voyageur’s Cup complete, and the opening match in the 2019 CONCACAF League set, the route to the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League has narrowed.
This is the 4th in this series to date. In the first article, I outlined the two paths for the Canadian Premier League teams to reach the CONCACAF Champions League. In the second and third, I provided updates on which teams were eliminated from either route.
With the Canadian Championship semi-finals and the CONCACAF Preliminary Round set, there remains few contenders for entry to the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.
Voyageur’s Cup Update
The third round of the Voyageur’s Cup is now complete. With it, York9 and HFX Wanderers have been eliminated from the race for automatic qualification to the 2020 CCL.
York & Montreal battled a surprisingly even couple of tilts. With the first match coming away a 2-2 draw, the advantage was to Montreal thanks to the away goals rule. In the end, it was a penalty in the 55′ that gave Montreal the go-ahead and pushed them through to the semi-finals.
An extremely close pair of matches, Ottawa took the victory in the first match, leaving Halifax with a 3-2 victory due to Tissot’s go-ahead goal in the 67′. Last night’s rematch, required the Wanderers to win by 2 goals, to match the score and go to penalties, or to come away with a 1-goal lead plus a total of 4 or more goals. It actually came close. HFX led by 2 until just before half, when Obasi turned the tables on the CPL squad. Ottawa would come back with a 2nd goal to draw the match in the 2nd half, giving them a birth against Toronto in the semi-finals.
Following a 0-0 draw in Calgary, the match between Cavalry and Whitecaps was pivotal last night. The ‘Caps continue to struggle in league play, while the Cavs have seen nothing but success. Brown’s goal in the 7th meant Cavalry only needed to draw in order to be the first team to advance over an MLS-side in the history of the bracket-based tournament. Hwang drew things level for the ‘Caps in the 67’, but it didn’t last long. With Zator slotting a 2nd goal for Cavalry in the 72nd, the lads were able to close things up.
The semi-finals won’t get easier for anyone.
With Toronto FC looking stronger than they have all year, they’re almost assured to defeat Ottawa and advance to the finals. Still, anything can happen, and Ottawa could pull off a true David & Goliath and pull ahead to the finals.
The other match up should be significantly more competitive. With hot-and-cold Montreal facing down Cavalry, it’s an opportunity for the top CPL-side to topple another giant. Cavalry have nothing to lose, and Montreal is still smarting from their close battle with York9. This could be anyone’s series.
We won’t have long to wait. The semi-finals kick off August 7th.
2019 CONCACAF League Qualification Update
The 2019 CONCACAF League qualification race was handily won by Forge, putting them right into the Preliminary round.
Their first challenge will be Antigua GFC of Guatamala. Guatamala have, in the past, provided strong challenges for the usual suspects: Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama. As a result, we expect them to pose a difficult challenge for Forge to overcome.
With Hamilton hosting the first leg August 1st, we’ll have a good idea of what we can expect to see in very short order. The return leg will occur the following week on August 8th in Guatamala at Doroteo Guamach Flores.
The stadium, which opened in 1950, has a seating capacity of 26,000, with a 105 m x 71 m grass pitch. It is the largest stadium in Guatemala, and the 7th largest in all of Central America.
The Canadian Premier League really couldn’t ask for a much better venue for their international debut. The series against Antigua will be challenging and educational for Forge, especially as most of its players lack any international experience.
If Forge manage to defeat Antigua, they’ll move on to face Olimpia on August 22nd & 29th. The chances of defeating the Honduran side are, in this author’s opinion, very slim. If Forge want a place in the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League however, they’re going to have to find a way to do it as only the top-6 teams from the CONCACAF League qualify.
With the first three rounds of the Voyageur’s Cup complete, and the first two rounds of the 2019 CONCACAF League set, the path to the 2020 CCL has narrowed significantly.
With both the Preliminary & Round of 16 concluding before the month is out, we’ll know whether Forge is in the CONCACAF League quarterfinals, where a single win or draw may be enough to earn them 1 of 6 spots in the 2020 CCL.
We’ll also know whether Cavalry make it to the Voyaguer’s Cup Final, and who they’ll have to defeat to make dreams come true.
Either way, we’ll be back with another CPL path to the 2020 CCL Update, and if things don’t go well, we’ll start looking toward the 2021 CCL…