Ottawa and Vancouver lead respective Canadian Championship semi-finals

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After an exciting first leg of the 10th anniversary edition of the Canadian Championship, the Battle of the North will continue this week with both visiting teams carrying a 2-1 aggregate lead heading into the return leg of their semi-final series.

With a focus on providing Canadian players with more domestic opportunities, this year’s new Canadian Content rule has led to 25 Canadian players with meaningful minutes across the five teams’ matches to date.  Over four matches, four Canadians have received Man of the Match honours proving that the tournament is fast becoming a place for young Canadians to showcase their talent on a national stage

Canadian soccer fans can catch all of the action on TSN 1,3,4 and 5 and RDS on 30 May with a 7:30 ET kick off when the Vancouver Whitecaps FC visit Saputo Stadium in Montreal to take on the Montreal Impact.  The following evening, Ottawa Fury FC will travel to BMO Field in Toronto for the Battle of Ontario where they will face Toronto FC on 31 May for a 7:00 p.m. ET kick off.

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC will have the advantage heading into the Semi-final return leg in Montreal with young Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies having scored and set up Vancouver’s second goal to earn their first leg victory. Another Canadian youth international David Choiniere nabbed an away goal for the Impact setting up an exciting semi-final match.

“There’s Canadians popping up all over the place which is good for all the clubs involved and the country,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson about 16-year-old Vancouver midfielder Alphonso Davies and Montreal Impact FC winger Ballou Tabla who went head-to-head a number of times in the first leg.

Canadian Montreal Impact FC head coach Mauro Biello agreed that the young Canadian matchup was one to watch with “two exciting young players with a lot of talent,” Biello said. “Davies, on the other side, excellent player, a handful, very physical, very direct in his play, scores a big goal and Ballou has been exceptional for us all year and again (Tuesday). He was able to unbalance on the dribble, on the pass, created space.”

Ottawa Fury FC heads to BMO Field in Toronto on 31 May to try and capitalize on their first leg 2:1 home victory over Toronto FC and advance to their first Canadian Championship Final round.  Fury FC’s Canadian International goalkeeper Callum Irving backstopped Ottawa’s win in their first-ever meeting with Toronto FC.  The win also marked their second consecutive Semi-final round, first leg victory after posting a 2:0 victory in the 2016 tournament against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

“This was a very exciting game to play in, as a Canadian, it’s always a pleasure to play in the Canadian Championship,” Irving said. “For us to be able to get a crowd like this and to get a big win against an MLS squad, I think it was fantastic in front of our home fans and it was an honour for me to be a part of that.”

“It’s something I take pride in to be able to call myself a Champion of Canada,” said Canadian International Jordan Hamilton who along with being a member of the reigning Canadian Champion Toronto FC, is also a two-time Canada Soccer All-Stars National Champion. “To be able to keep playing in these tournaments and play for championships that are Canadian is a great honour and something I take pride in.”

More than 30,000 fans have attended the Battle of the North to date in Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver. With the matches moving to Montreal and Toronto, all five professional club venues will have hosted matches for the 2017 Canadian Championship ahead of the two-legged final scheduled for 21/22 and 27 June 2017.

Canadian Content
As the only all-Canada competition that leads to the international stage, including the CONCACAF Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup, the Canadian Championship is viewed as a prestigious event unparalleled in Canada.

New Canadian Content rules introduced by Canada Soccer in 2017 include the requirement that a minimum of three Canadians are in the starting lineup for all Canadian Championship matches which will result in more Canadian players taking the pitch than in any previous editions of the competition’s 10-year history.

Between the two matches on Tuesday night, there were 29 Canadians dressed across the four teams. Including the first round, the five Canadian teams have dressed 37 players after four matches.

The Battle of the North
“We’re calling this competition The Battle of the North because it really is the pinnacle of Canadian club soccer, and the only competition that gives Canadian professional clubs an opportunity to advance to the international stage,” said Peter Montopoli, General Secretary for Canada Soccer. “Canadian clubs have come close to securing a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup in the past, including the Montréal Impact in 2015. We are confident we’ll see some world-class soccer in each of these upcoming Canadian Championship matches.”

The Path to the FIFA Club World Cup
The path to the FIFA Club World Cup started with the Qualifying Round, with Ottawa Fury FC now joining Canada’s three MLS teams for home and away Semi-final series. The home and away Final round will culminate with the final match on 27 June where the winner will be crowned 2017 Canadian Champion and raise the Voyageurs Cup. A special one-match Battle of the North playoff between the 2016 Canadian Championships winners Toronto FC and the 2017 winners will be played on 9 August in Toronto to determine who will advance, unless Toronto FC repeats as Canadian winners.

The winner of the Battle of the North will have earned its spot to compete in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the region’s most prestigious club tournament, that qualifies its champion directly to the FIFA Club World Cup.

One of the most distinguished club level trophies in soccer, the FIFA Club World Cup pits the winners of CONCACAF Champions League against the winners of the five other continental championships: Asia’s AFC Champions League, Africa’s CAF Champions League, South America’s Copa Libertadores, Oceania’s OFC Champions League, and Europe’s UEFA Champions League. The competition also features the host nation’s national champions.

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