What's at stake in tonight's Canadian Championship semifinal second legs

Tsubasa Endoh - Toronto FC - vs. Ottawa Fury - Canadian Championship

The finalists in this year’s Canadian Championship will be determined in Toronto and Calgary tonight, as four teams compete in the second and decisive legs of their semifinal series.

Thanks to their first-leg victories last week, MLS teams Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact hold the upper hand against USL Championship and Canadian Premier League opponents, respectively. But they’ve still got to get the job done over the 90 minutes if they are to make this year’s CanChamp into a knockout edition of their bitter Canadian Classique rivalry.

The eventual winner of the Canadian Championship — TFC are the incumbent champions — gets national bragging rights, possession of the Voyageurs Cup trophy and a slot in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League. That honor will be decided in a two-legged final between the semifinal series winners next month, with the first leg set for Sept. 18 and the second leg on Sept. 25.

Toronto FC vs. Ottawa Fury FC (7:30 pm ET | OneSoccer.ca)

Thanks to an opportunistic first-leg road win by a reserve-dominated lineup in the nation’s capital, TFC carry a 2-0 aggregate lead home to BMO Field.

As defending champs, the Reds were given a bye to the semifinal round of this year’s expanded CanChamp, and in the aggregate format with away-goals tiebreaker, now all that’s needed to advance to the final is to win, draw or even lose by a margin of just one goal on Wednesday. Ottawa can send the tie to extra time with a 2-0 win, or can win it outright with a higher-scoring win by two or more goals.

Coach Greg Vanney’s side will be aiming to leave no doubts about this one with the sting of two dropped points from their home draw vs. Orlando City in MLS weekend action still fresh. Toronto badly want to return to CCL next season after cruel exits from that tournament over the past two years, but are also locked in a dogfight for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Little surprise, then, that media reports have suggested squad rotation will be in effect vs. Fury, with an eye towards a fresh XI for Saturday’s visit to Columbus Crew SC.

Cavalry FC vs. Montreal Impact (9:30 pm ET | OneSoccer.ca)

The second half of tonight’s doubleheader looks decidedly more open, thanks to ex-TFC man Sergio Camargo’s late consolation goal in the first leg in Montreal. The Impact were up 2-0 and cruising thanks to an Ignacio Piatti brace, but their margin for error in leg 2 shrank markedly when the high-octane Cavalry — the clear standouts from the CPL’s inaugural season and upsetters of the Vancouver Whitecaps in the quarterfinals — cut their lead while also securing an away goal.

To further complicate matters for the Quebecois, Piatti picked up an adductor injury in their 3-2 road loss at Chicago on the weekend and did not travel to Alberta. That leaves their hosts licking their chops as they welcome IMFC to ATGO Field at Spruce Meadows, an intimate venue where they’re 7-1-1 this year and tend to asphyxiate opponents with uptempo pressing.

Piatti’s absence is a huge blow for the visitors, though CFC will be without their captain, Nik Ledgerwood, thanks to his ejection on two yellow cards in the first leg, and Camargo and Jordan Brown are injury doubts.

Montreal can advance with a win, a draw or a one-goal loss in which they score two or more goals; Calgary can advance with a 1-0 win or a multi-goal win, and a 2-1 Cavalry win would send the series to extra time, with a penalty-kick shootout the final decider if needed.