Whitecaps FC kick off newly-expanded Canadian Championship in July

‘Caps enter 13-team, five-round competition in the Third Qualifying Round

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Vancouver Whitecaps FC will begin the quest for their second Voyageurs Cup on July 10, the club confirmed on Thursday as Canada Soccer announced the schedule for the 2019 Canadian Championship.

Whitecaps FC will enter the fray in the Third Qualifying Round of the newly-expanded 13-team format, playing the first leg on July 10, followed by a decisive leg on July 24.

Home dates will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Semi-Final Round will take place on August 7 and 14 followed by the Final Round on September 8 and 25, with the winner capturing the Voyageurs Cup and earning Canada’s sole spot in the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.

For the first time in competition history, the tournament features five rounds pitting clubs from five different leagues. Whitecaps FC and fellow MLS sides Montreal Impact and Toronto FC will be joined by teams from League1 Ontario, the Première ligue du Soccer de Québec (PLSQ), the Canadian Premier League, and United Soccer League.

Each of the rounds will be contested in a home and away format with the winner being determined by the aggregate score over the two legs. In the event of a tie, away goals will be used to determine the winner. New for 2019, there will be no extra time with kicks from the penalty mark to be used at the end of the second leg to determine the winner.

All 13 teams have been assigned a round in which they will enter the competition, with the 2019 Canadian Championship round-by-round matchups to be announced at a later date.

The tournament kicks off with the First Qualifying Round on May 15 and 22, featuring six teams drawn to determine the matchups. PLSQ winners AS Blainville make their return to competition, joined by first-time participants League1 Ontario champions Vaughan Azzurri and CPL clubs Pacific FC, Cavalry FC, York9 FC and HFX Wanderers FC. The four CPL clubs entered into Canada Soccer membership in 2018.

The Second Qualifying Round is slated for June 5 and 12, featuring the three First Qualifying Round winners, matched up against CPL clubs FC Edmonton, Forge FC, and Valour FC. FC Edmonton returns to the Canadian Championship as a member of the Canadian Premier League and as such are granted a bye to this round.  They are joined by Forge FC and Valour FC by virtue of their entry to Canada Soccer membership in 2017.

MLS sides Whitecaps FC and Montreal Impact, and USL club Ottawa Fury FC begin competition in the Third Qualifying Round, and will battle the winners from the previous round. Defending Voyageurs Cup winners Toronto FC are granted a bye to the Semi-Final Round, where they will be joined by the three teams advancing from the previous round.

First Qualifying Round: May 15 and 22 
AS Blainville (PLSQ), Vaughan Azzurri (L1O), Pacific FC (CPL), Cavalry FC (CPL), York9 FC (CPL), and HFX Wanderers FC (CPL)

Second Qualifying Round: June 5 and 12 
FC Edmonton (CPL), Forge FC (CPL), and Valour FC (CPL): Each will play First Qualifying Round winners.

Third Qualifying Round: July 10 and 24 
Montreal Impact (MLS), Vancouver Whitecaps FC (MLS), and Ottawa Fury FC (USL): Each will play Second Qualifying Round winners.

Semi-Final Round: August 7 and 14 
Toronto FC (MLS) and three Third Qualifying Round winners.

Final Round: September 18 and 25