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CPL Corner (matchday 2) by Brett Lubkiwski

So far through two weeks of the CPL season, it’s hard to deny that being on your home pitch has been a massive advantage. The home clubs currently have a record of 6-1-1, attendance has been good and according to Wonger and Sharms, York Lions Stadium makes some damn good sliders.

But, there’s another competition about to kick off that I want to focus on. The Canadian Championship is back for its 17th year! We begin with a CPL battle between Cavalry and VFC and then potentially the most lopsided matchup on paper between Toronto FC and Simcoe County Rovers…and I just don’t think TFC can keep up with the L1O champion Rovers!

For me there is nothing quite like a domestic cup competition. The FA Cup and Copa Del Rey for example are fantastic and the U.S. Open Cup has always held a special place in my heart. Sacramento Republic’s run to the final in 2022 while beating three MLS sides to get there was special and I think we’re all behind Danny Dichio’s Detroit City this year. 

I could go on all day about how disappointed I am in all but 8 MLS sides for all but abandoning the USOC, but this is CPL corner and we keep it north of the border here.

So, could this possibly be the year a Canadian Premier League team actually wins the Voyageurs Cup? Forge came close, losing to TFC in PK’s in the 2020 Final (which was played in 2022 all thanks to a silly little pandemic.) That’s the only time a non-MLS side has played in a Final. 

To quote Reverend Lovejoy from The Simpsons, “Short answer ‘yes’ with an ‘if’, long answer ‘no’ with a ‘but’…”

Short answer: Yes, if a couple bounces go a teams way, or if the two-legged ties push the MLS sides to rest some players. Then we could see something magical happen. Pacific, Valour and Atlético would avoid MLS sides until the semis so one of those clubs could be in a spot to make a good little run.

Long answer: No, but they’re getting closer. There’s one rule change that I would like to see going forward. As it stands, teams are required to start a minimum of three Canadians in a cup match. Personally, I’d like to see that number grow. I want to see it double, at least

In the 2023 final, guess how many Whitecaps players were on the pitch when the final whistle blew? Yeah, it’s 0. Russell Teibert, Ryan Raposo and Levonte Johnson all started the match and were the first three players subbed off. Now, I’m not going to take anything away from the Caps, they 100% earned that trophy last year. 

I love to see cup competitions be an opportunity for young, domestic players to get some first team minutes and make a name for themselves. It kind of took some of the shine away to not see Canadians winning our Cup, named after our country’s Supporters.

The minimum number of Canadians should be either 6 in the Starting XI or 9 in the full squad. Players from MLS Next Pro may get called up for a cup match, possibly leveling the playing field just a little bit more while also giving some exciting young Canadians a chance to prove themselves in a meaningful situation.

So, No I don’t think it will happen this year but CPL teams are getting closer and the play we’ve seen through two weeks is a strong indicator that this league is seriously growing in quality.

Hopefully we can have a similar conversation about a Women’s Canadian Championship once Project 8 is up and running.




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