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Pacific FC in West pot for Canadian Championship draw

Open round to take place in April
Head coach James Merriman and Pacific FC are looking forward to next week's Canadian Championship draw. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST)

Pacific FC knows all about the vagaries of single-knockout competition in the Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup. It led to two landmark moments in the 2021 competition, which is Canadian soccer’s version of the FA Cup, with PFC knocking off the Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS in a quarter-final at a raucous Starlight Stadium before a 2-1 semifinal loss to another MLS club, Toronto FC, at BMO Field.

Last year was a sharp and shock first-round PFC elimination against fellow Canadian Premier League-club York United on penalty kicks at Starlight Stadium.

The pots for next Tuesday’s 2023 Canadian ­Championship draw for the first round were announced yesterday. PFC is in the Western pot with ­fellow CPL clubs Vancouver FC, ­Cavalry FC of Calgary, ­Valour FC of ­Winnipeg and B.C. League1-champion TSS Rovers of ­Richmond. The Whitecaps have earned a first-round bye as defending champions.

“This is an important ­competition for us and we are not happy about how it went last season because we wanted more,” said PFC head coach James Merriman.

“That has made us incredibly hungry for this year’s competition. Everybody knows how special it was to beat the Whitecaps in 2021 and play TFC in the semis. It’s tournament competition and whether you are playing against a League-1 or MLS club, it’s one game and anything can happen. Nobody can take anything for granted in a one-game knockout.”

CF Montreal of MLS and CPL teams Forge FC of Hamilton, York United, Atlético Ottawa and HFX Wanderers of Halifax will be in the Eastern Pot for the first-round draw. As 2022 finalist, TFC has a bye into the ­second round.

One of each — Ontario League1-champion Vaughan SC Azzurri and Quebec League-1-champion FC Laval — will be placed in the West and East pots to make it six teams in each pot for the opening-round draw.

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. Canada Soccer will announce the schedule, including times and venues for the preliminary round, following next week’s draw.

FREE KICKS: The CPL also announced Tuesday that Cavalry FC, HFX Wanderers, Valour FC and Vancouver FC will have to the open the competition on the road. The four teams cannot play at home because of stadium availability and weather conditions.

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