The Battle of the North is upon us and for the first time HFX Wanderers will compete for the title of Canadian Champion!
It’s a magical format because in this tournament, amateur provincial club champions get to try to be the giant killers against professional teams.
And this year, the twelfth in this Canada Soccer contest, is the biggest ever with 13 teams playing 24 matches.
Here’s who we have to get past to lift the cup.
Champions Toronto FC are one of three MLS teams, along with Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Wanderers are one of the seven CPL teams entering the tournament for the first time.
Ottawa Fury from the USL are part of the competition.
League1 Ontario winners Vaughan Azzurri and Blainville from Premiere Ligue de soccer du Quebec are also in the draw.
Each round is a two-legged, home and away aggregate score. If the score is tied, the away goals rule comes into play.
And our first game on Wednesday is against one of those teams hoping to cause an upset, as we’ve been drawn against Vaughan Azzurri, the League1 Ontario champs.
Two of the players who helped them become a dominant team are now ours after we signed Tomasz Skublak and Matthew Arnone. We’ll be asking them for the inside scoop going into this match!
Our first leg Wednesday at 8 p.m. AST is Match One in Qualifying Round One of the competition.
We’ll get underway at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan with the return leg at the Wanderers Grounds on May 22.
That day promises to be the ultimate day in Halifax sports history with the Mooseheads facing off in hockey’s Memorial cup on the same night.
That’s two massive match ups within a few minutes walk of each other, right here in Halifax.
That’s why we moved our kick off time to 6 p.m. on May 22 to give everyone a chance to take in both big games and enjoy our downtown safely — before and after the action — on the field and at the rink.
If we beat Vaughan, here’s what is ahead of us in the Canadian Championship draw that has already been made.
It would be Valour up next on June 5 and June 12
The winners of that will play Ottawa Fury in Match 6 on July 10 and July 24
The team to win that tie then gets a dream match up against the current champions Toronto FC in the semi-finals on August 7 and August 14.
Yes! We could be hosting Toronto FC at our very own Wanderers Grounds on August 7.
The Final Round is then scheduled on Sept 18 and Sept 25 with the champion team getting to hoist the famous Voyageurs Cup.
And as if the players needed it there are a few more extra incentives as well.
The most valuable player takes away the George Gross trophy, named for the Canadian soccer journalist who covered the game through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
But that’s not all.
The championship team is also rewarded with the place to represent our country in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League.
A total of sixteen teams compete in that competition from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
The winners of that tournament then get to represent Concacaf at the FIFA club World Cup. Real Madrid are the current holders. So we’re talking seriously world class opposition.