New Canadian competition to determine entry into CONCACAF Champions League

The Montreal Impact, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Toronto FC will all play in a home-and-away round-robin tournament from May to July 2008. The winner will advance to the opening round of the inaugural 2008-09 season of CONCACAF Champions League.

The tournament will kick off May 27 at the new Saputo Stadium in Montreal as the Impact host Toronto FC. The two teams will meet again, July 22 at BMO field. The Vancouver Whitecaps will visit Montreal June 17 and the Impact will play the return game at Swangard Stadium, in Vancouver, June 25. The Whitecaps and Toronto FC will face at BMO Field, July 1, and at Swangard, July 9.

“We are very excited as a club to participate in an event that will showcase soccer locally, nationally and internationally,” says Joey Saputo, President of the Montreal Impact and the Saputo Stadium. “All three clubs have made great achievements in their respective local markets, but this is a unique opportunity to further promote the game of soccer throughout the country. Also, I truly want to underline the great spirit of cooperation that has surrounded this project since the clubs first initiated their discussions last October. When natural rivals such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal put their differences aside and come together for the good of the game, you know something exciting is going to happen.”

“This competition provides a unique opportunity for the professional clubs and the Canadian Soccer Association to showcase a high-level competition to our fans,” says Canadian Soccer Association chairman of the board Dominic Maestracci. “It will open the door for our best professional club to measure itself against the best clubs in CONCACAF.”

“The realization of a Canadian club represented at the CONCACAF Champions League is a huge step in the evolution of professional soccer in Canada,” says Vancouver Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “Canada's three professional clubs have never been stronger both on and off the field. This tournament will showcase the growth of the sport in Canada's three biggest markets. It's a great time to be a fan of the professional game in Canada.”

“Toronto FC is excited to compete in a national tournament that challenges our players and gives them an opportunity to develop their game at another level,” said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Governor of Major League Soccer. “More importantly, competitions such as this Canadian qualification tournament support our goal of motivating the next generation of national soccer talent and show them that they have professional soccer teams to aspire to.”

All three teams will play four games - two at home and two on the road. There will be three points awarded for a win and one point awarded for a draw. In case two teams are tied in points after four matches, the winner will be decided first by goal differential, then if necessary by most goals scored, then if necessary by most away goals, then if necessary by the drawing of lots.

The CONCACAF Champions League - which will replace the existing eight-team CONCACAF Champions' Cup - will feature four clubs each from Mexico and the United States, two clubs each from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, one club each from Canada, Belize, and Nicaragua, and three clubs from the Caribbean islands.

Sixteen of the 24 clubs - including Canada's entry - will take part in a preliminary home-and-away series in late August and early September. The preliminary round winners will join the other eight seeded teams in the group stage that consists of four groups of four. All the teams in each group will play each other in a round-robin system during six match dates (three home games, three away games) from 16 September to October 30.

The top two clubs from each group will advance to the knock out phase playing home-and-away elimination. The quarterfinals start in February 2009; semi-finals begin in March; and the finals will take place in late April.

The CONCACAF Champions League winner will qualify as the CONCACAF's representative to the 2009 edition of the FIFA Club World Cup.

Note that tickets for the two qualifying games in Montreal will be on sale at a later time.


Tuesday May 27 / Toronto FC @ Montreal Impact

Tuesday June 17 / Vancouver Whitecaps FC @ Montreal Impact

Wednesday June 25 / Montreal Impact @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Tuesday July 1 / Vancouver Whitecaps FC @ Toronto FC

Wednesday July 9 / Toronto FC @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Tuesday July 22 / Montreal Impact @ Toronto FC


Sources :

Richard Scott - 613.237.4580 x237 / 613.818.0305 - CSA

Patrick Vallée - 514.328.3668 x227 / 514.919.0539 - Impact de Montréal

Nathan Vanstone - 604.629.2251 / 778.228.7177 - Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Michelle Lissel - 416.815.5400 x5399 / 416.716.1311 - Toronto FC