The Canadian Championship is expanding to 13 teams with a 24-match schedule beginning on May 15 and culminating with a two-legged final on Sept. 18 and 25, Canada Soccer announced on Thursday.
The competition, which will be five rounds this year, will feature teams from five leagues — Major League Soccer, United Soccer Leagues, Canadian Premier League, Première ligue du Soccer de Québec (PLSQ) and League1 Ontario.
The winner captures the Voyageurs Cup and earns Canada’s lone berth in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League.
“The Canadian Championship has evolved into a true domestic cup competition with multiple levels of entrants all battling to secure a coveted Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League spot,” Canada Soccer President Steven Reed said in a statement. “We are proud to welcome seven teams as first-time entrants from League1 Ontario and the Canadian Premier League that join six returning teams in our 2019 Battle of the North.”
Joining the Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Ottawa Fury FC of USL, which enter the competition in the third qualifying round set to be played on July 10 and 24, are seven Canadian Premier League clubs — FC Edmonton, Forge FC, Valour FC, Cavalry FC, HFX Wanderers FC, Pacific FC, and York9 FC; AS Blainville of Première ligue du Soccer de Québec’ and League1 Ontario champions Vaughan Azzurri.
Each round will be played as a two-legged series with away goals determining the winner. New for 2019, extratime will not be played to break a tie following the second leg. Matches will go straight to penalty kicks at that time.
There will be three qualifying rounds played on May 15 and 22, June 5 and 12 and July 10 and 24. Defending champion Toronto FC earns a bye into the semifinal round, which takes place on August 7 and 14. TFC defeated the Whitecaps, 7-4, on aggregate in August to win their seventh title and third in a row.