This past Tuesday evening in Vancouver, the Impact made its first steps on the road that might lead the club to the CONCACAF Champions League and its new format, which was announced earlier this year. The Bleu-blanc-noir faces the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in this home-and-away semifinals series, with the second leg taking place tonight at Stade Saputo, at 7:30pm (TICKETS - RDS, TSN, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690). Our small national tournament – five teams take part – is played annually in May and June, and usually offers a ticket for the Champions League; usually, as this year, because of the change in format, the champion will have to face Toronto FC, last year’s winner, in a playoff at BMO Place on August 9, to officially qualify.
A trophy to add to the cupboard
The Voyageurs Cup, the emblem of a mari usque ad mare supremacy north of the 45th parallel, was lifted nine times by the Impact in its history, a national record. And if the path to get to the trophy is not the longest, it surely is a tough one: besides the two Canadian clubs in NASL and USL, FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury FC respectively – who face each other in a home-and-away knockout to join the semifinals, the two other teams in MLS, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC, are in the way.
Entering the competition at the semi-final stage, MLS clubs hold the top three seeds according to their regular season standing in the North American first division: the top team will automatically play against a lower-division club from the knockout series. This spring, Toronto FC will clash with Ottawa Fury FC in a purely Ontarian faceoff; the first leg will take place tonight at 7pm, on the other side of the 417 highway.
The two-legged series winner is determined by the total of goals scored. If it ends in a tie, the team that scored the most away goals wins the series.
The Impact’s triumph back in 2014 allowed the club to go all the way to the Champions League final, facing clubs like Pachuca, Alajuelense and Club América in the knockout stage.