Highlanders inclusion in Amway Championships distinct possibility following announcement

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by Canadian Soccer Association

March 21, 2014 (ISN) – The Canadian Soccer Association’s recently announced changes to the Amway Canadian Championship that could signal a significant shift in the soccer landscape for Victoria as well as other Canadian small-market clubs.

The Amway Canadian Championship will shift to a competition schedule played in

the summer months and takes effect in 2014. The Amway Canadian Championships represent the Canadian equivalent of United States’ Open Cup or England’s FA Cup. Under the current summer format, the championships include Canadian MLS and NASL league teams. The tournament’s schedule shift opens up the possibility of a USL-Pro and PDL inclusion in the tournament.

“The Highlanders are excited to hear about the changes taking place with the Canadian Championships,” said Highlanders general manager Mark deFrias. “With the recent statements of CSA’s president, it seems as if the door is opening for expansion of the Championships and that is always welcome news. The chance to see your small-market team competing against the top teams is what we’ve always wanted. A David and Goliath opportunity in the making.”

Canadian Soccer Association Full Press Release:

The 2014 Amway Canadian Championship will be played in its current format and timeframe, starting this 23 April in Ottawa, with the winner earning the rights to represent Canada in the 2014/2015 CONCACAF Champions League. This will be the seventh edition of the national competition that features the country’s five professional clubs.

The 2015 edition of the Amway Canadian Championship will shift timeframe to be played in July and August, after the completion of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015TM and respecting the CONCACAF Gold Cup dates. The champion of the 2015 Amway Canadian Championship will represent Canada in the 2016/2017 CONCACAF Champions League.

Given the revised timeframe for the 2015 Championship, the competition will not be played in time to designate the Canadian representative for the 2015/2016 CONCACAF Champions League. As such, it has been agreed with all participating clubs that the Canadian MLS club ranked highest in the combined league points table at the end of the 2014 regular MLS season would be appointed Canadian representative for the 2015/2016 CONCACAF Champions League.

“Canada Soccer recognizes that the transition may be confusing in the short term, but we’re confident it will benefit the competition in the longer term,” said Victor Montagliani, Canada Soccer President. “This new format will allow the Amway Canadian Championship to grow, becoming even more of a Canadian showcase of professional soccer as our sport continue to evolve.”

Starting in 2016 and for subsequent editions, the Amway Canadian Championship will resume its format and be played in the new, more club and fan friendly timeframe of June and July, with the winner representing Canada in the following season of the CONCACAF Champions League.

“The move to the new timeframe was proposed in response to some of our participating clubs concerns and allows for more flexibility in the competition structure around professionalization of the sport and potential expansion,” added Montagliani. “But more importantly, we believe it will make it a more enjoyable experience for fans across the country.”

Every year, the Amway Canadian Championship pits Canada’s professional clubs – newest member Ottawa Fury FC (NASL), FC Edmonton (NASL), Montreal Impact (MLS), Toronto FC (MLS) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC (MLS) – against each other in a knock-out home and away series to ultimately determine a champion that will lift the Voyageurs Cup and earn the right to represent the country in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Through the first six editions of the Amway Canadian Championship, Montreal Impact were inaugural champions (2008) followed by Toronto FC who won the Voyageurs Cup in four successive seasons (2009 to 2012), before Montreal Impact won the championship again in 2013. In CONCACAF Champions League, Montreal Impact (2008-09) reached the quarter-final phase while Toronto FC (2011-12) has participated in the semi-final round of continental club championship.

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