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Pacific FC draws Cavalry FC in first-round Canadian Championship match-up

Match to be played in mid-April at Starlight Stadium
Pacific FC and Cavalry FC will square off in the opening round of the Canadian Championship. TRISHA LEES, CANADIAN PREMIER LEAGUE

Pacific FC has drawn a familiar, and formidable, foe for its first round game in the Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup. The Tridents will meet Cavalry FC of Calgary at Starlight Stadium between April 18-20.

Cavalry, along with PFC and Forge FC of Hamilton, have been the three most consistent teams over the first four seasons of the Canadian Premier League.

“It’s a great test for us in a competition in which we want to go far,” said PFC head coach James Merriman.

It is the second time the clubs have been drawn in a first-round bracket with Cavalry FC ­winning 4-1 on two-game aggregate in 2019. The competition is now single-game elimination.

The Canadian Championship is this country’s equivalent of the FA Cup in England and features all 11 Canadian pro soccer teams — three in MLS and eight in the CPL — and the champions of the semi-pro League-1 B.C., League-1 Ontario and League-1 Quebec.

The Cavalry-PFC winner will meet the winner of a first-round game between CPL club Valour FC of Winnipeg and B.C. League-1 champion TSS Rovers of Richmond in the quarter-finals to be played between May 9-11. Valour FC appears to have received the favourable draw against TSS but Cup competitions around the world are known for their giant-killing upset moments.

“One-off Cup games are where anything can happen,” said Merriman.

Pacific FC knows all about that with its 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS in a 2021 quarter-final at a memorably giddy Starlight Stadium before a 2-1 semifinal loss to another MLS club, Toronto FC, at BMO Field.

Last year was a sharply-disappointing first-round PFC elimination against fellow CPL-club York United on penalty kicks at Starlight Stadium.

“That has made us really hungry for this year’s competition,” said Merriman.

In other first round games, Vancouver FC and York United will kick-off against each other and HFX against Atletico Ottawa in all-CPL match-ups. Forge FC has drawn Quebec League-1 champion FC Laval while CF Montreal of MLS plays Ontario League1-champion Vaughan SC Azzurri

The defending-champion Whitecaps and 2022-runner-up Toronto FC, have earned first-round byes into the quarter-finals.

The opening round will be played April 18-20, the quarter-finals May 9-11, the semifinals May 23-25 with the final in June on a date to be determined.

The 2023 Voyageurs Cup champion will play in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions League, the winner of which advances to the FIFA club World Cup.

CORNER KICKS: PFC announced the signing Tuesday of striker Adonijah Reid. The 23-year-old striker from Brampton, Ont., represented Canada in the 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 championship and was selected 40th overall in the 2017 MLS draft by FC Dallas. Reid has played more than 100 pro games, including with FC Miami of the USL Championship and Le Havre AC of Ligue 2 in France, with 14 goals and seven assists.

“Adonijah is a dynamic and inspiring player who knows how to find the back of the net,” former PFC captain Jamar Dixon, now manager of soccer and player development for the club, said in a statement.

“He has a big future ahead of him. The potential to be a game-changing playmaker and consistent goal-scorer at the heart of our attack is there.”