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Beyond the Lens - Decision Time

Voyageurs Cup

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Voyageurs Cup aka Amway Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup or something or like that. Anyway, a 5 team tournament to decide who gets Canada’s spot in the 2018 Champions League, which starts in February. A change in format for the CONCACAF Champions League sees the group stage eliminated, thus saving (if you want to call it that) matches like last season’s Group C finale when Central FC traveled to Children’s Mercy Park in late October.

However, a change in format also means tweaks to qualification for all associations. What is known is how the US Soccer Federation and Canadian Soccer Associations will be handling this. Normally, 1 spot goes to the winner of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, while the remaining 3 are allocated to MLS, those being the winner of the MLS Cup presented by Audi and the 2 conference winners (one being the Supporters Shield, and the other being in the opposite conference). However, with the format change came the decision that the 2 Cup Winners (US Open Cup and MLS Cup) from 2016 keep their spots, which means FC Dallas (Open Cup) and Seattle Sounders (MLS Cup) keep their spots. Potentially, the real losers are New York Red Bulls and Colorado Rapids (who took Dallas’s 2nd spot).

As for the Canadian situation, TFC won the 2016 competition, therefore if they don’t win the 2017 competition, a one match playoff, on Aug 9, will be held at BMO Field to determine the representative. For argument’s sake, let’s say TFC couches it. Yeah, they beat Ottawa in the SF and use mostly TFC2 players knowing that their fall-back plan is the playoff. Looking at each team’s MLS schedule, there is no real advantage to this situation, outside of Toronto being at home. August 2nd is the All-Star game vs Real Madrid at Soldier Field. All 3 teams are in action again on the 5th, with Toronto visiting DC, Montreal at home to Orlando City and the Caps are in Commerce City, to face the Rapids. With all due respect to Ottawa, I just don’t see them beating 2 MLS teams over 2 legs just for the chance to play TFC a 3rd time in the competition. A quick cost/benefit analysis says that this is an unnecessary risk for Ottawa to take.

Back to the Caps, because of their poor 2016 campaign, they enter as the 3rd seed, meaning that Leg 2 will always be away. Impossible task? Nope, but there’s no need to re-hash history as that will just put everyone in a bad mood.

Do I still consider this competition a priority? I do, because I believe the run to the CCL semi has made this team tougher and hungry to take the next step. Does that mean having to play an extra match? Sure, only because the scheduling (all-star break, away to Colorado before the potential playoff, and away to DC after) isn’t doing them any great disservice, like say, if they had retained the Cup and the playoff would’ve been at BC Place.

Time will tell as to how this all shakes out.