It felt as if an electric charge had jolted through Starlight Stadium on Thursday night. The surge was felt across the country as Pacific FC’s 4-3 upset of the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer made news as Canadian sports fans were again alerted to a unique soccer tradition in which national championship or Cup competitions are open to all pro clubs regardless of level or league.
“It was a great statement by the CPL,” said Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah.
The victory by PFC in the opening round of the Canadian Championship helped cost Marc Dos Santos his job Friday as Whitecaps head coach. It also propelled PFC into the quarter-finals Sept. 22 at Spruce Meadows in Calgary against fellow-CPL club Cavalry FC, which defeated host FC Edmonton 2-0 in an all-CPL first-round game at Clarke Stadium.
“Congratulations to Pa-Modou Kah, [PFC assistant coach] James Merriman and the PFC club for showcasing the quality of the CPL again in the Canadian Championship. An incredible performance. See you in the next round,” tweeted Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
In the other quarter-final match-ups, HFX Wanderers of the CPL will meet CF Montréal of MLS in Halifax and York United of the CPL will play Toronto FC of MLS at BMO Field, both on Sept. 22, and Valour FC of Winnipeg plays Forge FC in an all-CPL battle Sept. 15 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.
The semifinals are Sept. 28-29 with the final to be played between Oct. 19-26. The winner of the national tournament will lift the Voyageurs Cup and represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League, the winner of which advances to the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup.
Despite the massive imbalance in terms of resources and salary, MLS clubs are only 3-2-2 over three years in games against CPL teams. The Whitecaps are 0-2 after losing to PFC on Thursday and to Cavalry FC in the 2019 Canadian Championship. The Whitecaps have a total salary evaluation — which is a combination of every player’s current worth on the open market — of $37.68 million US to PFC’s $3.67 million US, according to Transfermarkt.
“It’s great for our league to have CPL clubs battling for the championship,” said Kah.