Chris Nurse of FC Edmonton
USA Today Sports

Canadian Championship: NASL teams will face play-in round in 2014, tournament may expand after

As the quartet of Amway Canadian Championship participants prepare for the second leg of the tournament’s semifinals this week, planning is already underway to include a fifth team next year with a vision for perhaps even more in the future.

Speaking with late last week, Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani said he likes the tournament’s current format, but that its two NASL teams – FC Edmonton and 2014 expansion debutants Ottawa Fury – will likely play against one another next year to determine which team reaches the tournament semifinals with Major League Soccer clubs Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

“What’s going to happen is the format will still be the home-and-away like we have now,” Montagliani said. “We’ll have a playoff between the NASL teams in terms of playing off for that spot. It hasn’t all been formalized but that’s sort of what we’re looking at for next year.”

READ: Whitecaps top NASL side FC Edmonton in first leg of ACC semis

Beyond 2014, Montagliani says plans are already in the works to see how the tournament can grow even more in the coming years.

With the CSA looking build the country’s semi-pro third-division infrastructure with regional leagues, the plan is to eventually include those clubs into the tournament. Financial constraints are naturally an obstacle for teams that aren’t in the professional ranks, but Montagliani still thinks it's possible.

“I think what you’re going to see with the increase of professional clubs in Canada over the next few years, even with our semi-pro leagues that are in their infancy in some of our regions,” he said, “we’re going to see some changes. Probably not in the next one or two, but definitely in the next five years, you’re going to see some increase in terms of the number of teams involved in the competition.”

READ: All you need to know about the 2013 Canadian Championship

Montreal will host Toronto in the second leg of their semifinal series on Wednesday night (7:30 pm ET, Sportsnet in Canada), while Vancouver host Edmonton (10 pm ET, Sportsnet in Canada). Toronto FC have won the tournament each of the past four years.