The Canadian Soccer Association has announced a new format for the Nutrilite Canadian Championship along with its 2011 schedule. For the first time, the competition will now feature four teams, with FC Edmonton added to the existing group of Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Impact Montréal. The old round-robin format has been replaced by the combination of a home-and-away semi-final stage along with a home-and-away championship final.
The winner of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship will qualify for CONCACAF Champions League, the 24-team confederation championship that qualifies one team for the FIFA Club World Cup.
"This new format, with the addition of the final series, will add more excitement to what is already a terrific event on the soccer calendar," said Peter Montopoli, General Secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association.
"We're thrilled to see that this amazing tournament is expanding," said Lydia Ayora, National Marketing Manager, Amway Canada. "As title sponsor since its inception, we're proud of what the Nutrilite Canadian Championship has contributed to soccer in this country and we're excited about what the future holds."
The new schedule features a line up with FC Edmonton against Toronto FC in one semi final and Vancouver Whitecaps FC against Impact Montréal in the other. On 27 April, Edmonton hosts Toronto while Montréal hosts Vancouver. One week later on 4 May, the fixtures will be reversed.
The two-leg championship final will be played on 18 May and 25 May.
The determination for semi-final pairings was based on the relative Major League Soccer or USSF Division 2 standings from the 2010 regular season. The 2011 seeding was (first to fourth) Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal and Edmonton.
FC Edmonton was granted full membership as a professional club at last year's Canadian Soccer Association Annual General Meeting. Approval for the revised format was sought through CONCACAF. With the sanction of NASL this week by the USSF, FC Edmonton’s acceptance into that league was completed, thus securing FC Edmonton's berth in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
"We are delighted to be invited to participate in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship next year," said Mel Kowalchuk, General Manager of FC Edmonton. "It will give us an opportunity to play against established, top soccer franchises, and to set our sights on bringing international competition to Edmonton."
Since 2008, Canada's top professional teams have played in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup. The Impact won the inaugural championship in 2008 while Toronto FC won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.
27 April 2011
Impact Montréal (3) v Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2) at Stade Saputo
FC Edmonton (4) v Toronto FC (1) at Commonwealth Stadium
4 May 2011
Toronto FC (1) v FC Edmonton (4) at BMO Field
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2) v Impact Montréal (3) at Empire Stadium
The highest seeded team in the final will determine whether it opens at home or away
18 May 2011
25 May 2011