A Modest Proposal For The Voyageurs Cup 2011 & Beyond
Without a doubt there has been controversy surrounding the format for the Voyageurs Cup Tournament since its inception three years ago. Vancouver Whitecaps fans have felt aggrieved for two years now, none more so than of course in 2009… Slightly less so in 2010, but aggrieved nonetheless.
The format of the competition since inception is six matches in total played home and away for each club, with the clubs playing four games each in total to decide the winner on points (or additional tie breakers such as head to head, goal difference, etc.). In the past two seasons Montreal has been eliminated before going into their last game and this of course has been the point of contention, especially on the left coast.
In the Canadian Soccer Association’s defence it would be hard to come up with any other format involving three teams that did not potentially lead to this sort of eventuality, especially with league form being so important to teams trying to make a profit. However there is light on the horizon, and that light is coming from northern Alberta in the form of FC Edmonton. Edmonton will be launching a D2 club next season, playing at the same level that Vancouver and Montreal currently play at. With four professional clubs playing in North America’s top two divisions (MLS and USL/NASL) now the opportunity presents itself to re-jig the Voyageurs Cup tournament to make it bigger and better in years to come. And it is very easily accomplished.
Here is what I propose for 2011, 2012 and beyond.
- Toronto FC, as Canada’s only 2010 MLS club, and 2010 Champions, are seeded first in the 2011 pool
- Vancouver or Montreal are seeded second or third respectively based on their order of finish in the USL/NASL regular season
- FC Edmonton, as the newcomers, are slotted into the fourth position
Toronto would play FC Edmonton in a home and away series with the first game in Edmonton and the deciding match played in Toronto. Vancouver and Montreal would do the same and whichever team finished ahead of the other in 2010 would get the second game at home. The winners of these two match-ups would play a one game, winner take all, Championship match at BMO Field, the home stadium of the 2010 Voyageurs Cup Champions.
- The Vancouver Whitecaps or Toronto FC are seeded first or Second in 2012 based on their respective finishes in the 2011 MLS regular season
- FC Edmonton or the Montreal Impact are seeded third or fourth respectively, again based on 2011 league results
The tournament would run in the same five game fashion as 2011, with the final being held in the stadium of the 2011 Cup Winner.
2013 and beyond
By 2013’s edition of the tournament there will be three MLS clubs in Canada. Assuming one of them (due respect Edmonton) is the 2012 champion, then that club gets to play the D2 club. The other two MLS sides would play each other home and away for the right to make it to the Championship game. If other D2 clubs (Ottawa, Hamilton, Victoria, etc.) are established in years ahead then they can play a round robin for the right to be the D2 qualifier for the final round of the tournament.
One might take issue with how I chose set up the seedings and I am sure that there are many models out there to choose from. However I feel that the overall structure of the tournament makes a whole lot of sense. Six games is about as big a tournament that these teams can reasonably fit into their already busy schedules. My proposal cuts that by one game to five, and most importantly creates something that I think would be the best thing to happen to Canadian professional Soccer since MLS came north, and that would be the establishment of an Annual National Championship Game.
The single game final is to me the attractive model for both the committed and non committed Canadian Soccer fan. Purists would liken it to the Champions League, FA Cup or World Cup Final and be familiar with the model. Casual fans would be attracted to a format (a single game final) that would be as familiar to Canadian sports fans as the Grey Cup is.
Sponsors would be more likely to get behind this tournament and television ratings would undoubtedly rise. Canadian Soccer has the chance here, if done correctly, to build upon the first three years of the Voyageurs Cup and use it as a springboard to get Canadian club soccer further into the Canadian sports mainstream, a place where our beautiful game definitely belongs!
Comments are always welcomed and appreciated.
The biggest question at this point, I think, has to be whether to go to a single match final, and in that case, where that final should be played. MLS Cup has shown that a neutral venue can work, however last year in Seattle is a bit of a stretch seeing as how fresh MLS was to that city.
Would a game between FCE and Montreal really draw that well at BMO Field? Try any other combo at neither team’s home stadium.
What about the CSL teams being added for a larger FA cup style of tournament? Excluding TFC Academy of course.
terrible idea…with 4 clubs the easiest thing to do is adopt a group like structure similiar to the world cup first round…where the final games of the group are played at the same time to avoid match fixing or trouble. Once more teams come into existance we could consider a knock type event like a FA Cup but you need at least 8 teams to do that and then can use a seeding system.