The draw for the preliminary round and quarter-finals of the 2024 TELUS Canadian Championship took place on Friday, with Canada Soccer revealing six intriguing opening-round matchups. This year's preliminary round will feature all eight Canadian Premier League clubs in a single-elimination format. The winners will advance to the home-and-away quarter-finals, where seeded teams CF Montréal, and back-to-back champions Vancouver Whitecaps await. Here are the biggest storylines surrounding each matchup from Friday's draw:

The 905 Derby in the national cup​

Forge FC and York United have met in countless memorable clashes over the years, including the Canadian Premier League's inaugural game on April 27, 2019. This year, however, they are set to meet in the Canadian Championship for the first time, in a preliminary-round matchup at Tim Hortons Field The two clubs have met just once in a knockout fixture over the years, in the 2021 CPL semifinal which Forge won 3-1. Forge also hold a significant edge in terms of performance in this tournament, having lost to Toronto FC on penalties in the 2020 final, and reaching the semifinal last year. With a new ownership group and several new exciting signings, however, the Nine Stripes will be keen to make an early season statement by beating their Ontario rivals. That is especially true since the winner of this tie will take on CF Montréal in the quarter-finals, a club who have eliminated Forge in the last three editions of the Canadian Championship.

Vancouver Island derby between Victoria Highlanders and Pacific FC​

The Victoria Highlanders won't have to travel far for their first match in the Canadian Championship, as the 2023 League1 BC champions face fellow Vancouver-Island club Pacific FC in the preliminary round. There will be plenty of familiarity between the two sides. Pacific FC head coach James Merriman played for the Victoria Highlanders, as did midfielder Sean Young, captain Josh Heard and Manager of Football Jamar Dixon. The battle for the best team on the Island, however, will certainly be a David vs. Goliath story as Pacific have twice reached the semifinals of this competition. They defeated League1 BC side TSS Rovers on their run last year.

League1 Ontario's Simcoe County Rovers take on Toronto FC​

For their national cup debut, it doesn't get much more different for Simcoe County Rovers than an away date with the most successful club in Canadian Championship history. The League1 Ontario champs will head to BMO Field and face Toronto FC, who have won a record eight times. They have not done so since winning the 2020 edition (played in 2022) against Forge FC, however -- their only win in the last five tournaments. Under new head coach John Herdman, lifting the Voyageurs Cup and getting back the Concacaf Champions Cup will be a top priority. This is the first time that TFC have faced a semi-professional club in this competition. Simcoe County Rovers boast an impressive ownership group that features Canadian national team players Atiba Hutchinson, Janine Beckie, Cyle Larin and former Halifax Wanderer Doneil Henry. The club also features former CPLers Ijah Halley (York), Gabriel Boakye (FC Edmonton) and Orlendis Benítez (Forge).

Cavalry and Vancouver FC face off for a shot at reigning champions Whitecaps​

A west coast clash between 2023 CPL Shield winners Cavalry FC and newcomers Vancouver FC is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing matchups of the opening round. Cavalry won the Canadian Premier League by 13 points last season, and are the only club that Vancouver FC didn't defeat in their debut season. However, they also bowed out of last year's Canadian Championship in the opening round, losing to Pacific in a penalty shootout. VFC, meanwhile, are searching for their first Canadian Championship victory. The matchup brings with it a significant carrot, with the winner getting to face back-to-back Voyageurs Cup winners the Vancouver Whitecaps in the quarter-finals. Cavalry famously defeated the Whitecaps in the 2019 edition of the tournament, while Vancouver FC have yet to face their provincial neighbours and will undoubtedly be relishing the possibility.

Can Valour FC earn Canadian Championship redemption in Ottawa?​

Valour were on the wrong side of one of the most notable upsets in Canadian Championship history last season, when they were stunned 3-1 by League1 BC champions TSS Rovers. The Winnipeg club's lone win in the Canadian Championship actually came against their preliminary round opponents in this year's edition, a 3-2 victory over Atlético Ottawa back in 2021. They return to TD Place Stadium this year in search of a similar result. Ottawa, meanwhile, lost a heartbreaking penalty shootout to Forge in the quarterfinals after picking up their first-ever Canadian Championship victory against Halifax last year in the opening round. With both sides having put significant work into their squads this off-season, they will be keen to quickly show improvement in this competition. Part of each side's rebuilds will include familiar faces in this matchup. Atlético Ottawa added Valour goalkeeper Rayane Yesli and winger Matteo de Brienne this off-season, while Valour acquired Atleti midfielder Noah Verhoeven on loan. Also adding intrigue is the fact that the winner of this matchup won't have to face an MLS side until at least the semifinals.

Halifax look to continue win streak against semi-pro sides​

For the fourth time in Canadian Championship history, the Halifax Wanderers will face a semi-professional side in the opening round of the competition. This time it will be a new challenger, as Ligue1 Québec's CS St-Laurent make their tournament debut at the Wanderers Grounds. The Wanderers defeated Vaughan Azzurri on aggregate during the 2019 Canadian Championship, bested A.S. Blainville in 2021, and Guelph United in 2022. Halifax have used these sorts of matchups as a recruitment opportunity in the past, as they brought in fullback Zach Fernandez in 2022 after he impressed against them during the 2021 competition while playing for Blainville. The winner of this matchup will face the victor of Toronto FC's clash with Simcoe County Rovers, which could in theory mean a rematch between Halifax and TFC, who met in the 2022 Canadian Championship at the Wanderers Grounds.

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