At last, the Canadian Championship is back! Three CPL clubs are in action this week, hosting unfamiliar foes in the first leg of Qualifying Round 3 this Wednesday in a gargantuan tripleheader of Canadian soccer. All three of HFX Wanderers FC, York 9 FC, and Cavalry FC will be hoping to find some sort of advantage in the home leg before their ties shift to Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver. This will be the first time CPL clubs have tested themselves against competition from Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League, with places in the CanChamp semi-finals on the line.
Canadian Championship — Round 3 (Leg 1) HFX Wanderers FC vs. Ottawa Fury FC July 10 — Wanderers Grounds (6 p.m. ET/7 p.m. AT) Watch Live:

Stephen Hart's HFX Wanderers booked their place in this round with a resounding 4-1 aggregate victory over Valour FC, winning both legs and keeping a clean sheet on the road. Now, they move on to play the USL Championship's Ottawa Fury — where both Ndzemdzela Langwa and Elliot Simmons spent time as academy players.

The Fury, seventh in the USL's Eastern Conference with a 7-3-7 record, present a daunting challenge for HFX, who enter this game coming off a 1-0 win over York9 FC on the weekend to begin Fall season play in the CPL. A date with Toronto FC awaits the winner of this tie.


  • Home advantage matters: Whatever we might make of HFX Wanderers FC's road woes, the Haligonian outfit has been nothing short of exemplary at home, making Wanderers Grounds a real fortress for visiting CPL outfits. With 5,000-strong support in the stands, the raucous crowd in Halifax has spurred their team onto victory on more than one occasion. That makes this first leg all the more crucial for Hart's side – a big result at home could pave way for a defensive stand at TD Place. If HFX is going to win this series ... it'll likely start from these familiar confines.
  • Stick to what works: There's no need to reinvent the wheel here – Hart would do well to stick to what works best for his team, especially when considering the absence of a few key game-changers like Luis Alberto Perea and Juan Diego Gutierrez; that means playing Kodai Iida down the middle, with Mo Kourouma and Akeem Garcia floating around out wide and up top. Without a hard Canadian player cap, Hart can also turn to more of his international talents for this match, too.
  • Beware Mour Samb: If there's one player that HFX Wanderers FC must keep close tabs on, it's Fury striker Mour Samb. The 25-year-old Senegalese striker has been in hot form for the Fury this season, scoring seven goals in 14 appearances while also joint-leading his team with four assists. His influence must be stymied if HFX want the result here.

Canadian Championship — Round 3 (Leg 1) York9 FC vs. Montreal Impact FC July 10 — York Lions Stadium (7 p.m. ET) Watch Live:

The 401 Derby takes a detour via the 407 this week, as the Montreal Impact enter familiarly hostile territory to play an unfamiliar opponent. York9 FC, returning to the CanChamp after they dispatched FC Edmonton with an impressive home leg victory, hopes to rebound in a big way from their 1-0 loss on the weekend to HFX Wanderers.

Montreal is fourth in the Eastern Conference in MLS, coming into this game with two straight losses behind them. Last year, they lost in the semi-finals of the CanChamp to the Vancouver Whitecaps. You can be sure that Remi Garde's side will be looking to advance past this first opponent in order to set up another visit to Toronto later down the line, but for York9, this match represents a major step up on their last visitors from Quebec, A.S. Blainville. Will this matchup have the same bite as the 401 Derby, we wonder?


  • No time for scoring woes: Now is not the time for York9 to wait for the goals to come; it's crunch time for the Nine Stripes, where every single shot and every single attempt matters. The Impact won't give Jimmy Brennan's side any leeway when it comes to backline errors, so you can be sure that any opportunity York9 has in front of goal has to count.​
  • Handling star power up top: It's no secret that the Impact boast some mighty weaponry in Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider. The two have accounted for 10 of the Impact's 25 goals this season, with Piatti no stranger to showing up for the moment in this tournament, either. Containing these two will be a major task for Morey Doner and Joe Di Chiara, but they can't do it alone.​
  • Giants can be toppled: The Impact may be dangerous, but their effectiveness in MLS hasn't been as cutthroat as the club may like – the Montreal-based outfit is fifth from the bottom in total shots and shots on goal, lending credence to the idea that York9 might not be meeting the most potent version of the Impact on Wednesday. Confidence is key, here.​

Canadian Championship — Round 3 (Leg 1) Cavalry FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC July 10 — Spruce Meadows (9:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. MT) Watch Live:

Tommy Wheeldon Jr. figures his Cavalry FC team is nowhere near its full potential; now, the full breadth of this dynamic attacking outfit will be tested against a Vancouver Whitecaps team that will be giving very little room for errors over two legs in Calgary and Vancouver. The Whitecaps come into this tournament needing to keep pace with the Impact and Toronto FC – the Voyageurs Cup has eluded this club more than the rest, with just one win under their belts. But, Cavalry FC represents the CPL's top team, having earned a berth in the CPL Championship by winning the Spring. Can the Cavs continue their dominant run against a team of this calibre?

  • Batter them, early: This Whitecaps team comes into this first leg on the back of a brutal 6-1 loss to Los Angeles FC. Marc dos Santos' side sits second-bottom in the Western Conference. Things aren't exactly peachy for the 'Caps, and while that might serve to doubly motivate the Vancouver players to perform in this tournament, it also gives Cavalry the platform to shake this team with an early goal or two.
  • The high press works: Another lesson to take out of the LAFC match? High pressing works against this team. LAFC were all over the Whitecaps with a combination of midfielders advancing forward to recover possession ... with Canadian international Mark-Anthony Kaye dominating in this category. If Elijah Adekugbe can replicate those efforts ... there's a chance here.
  • Attack the left flank: So much of Iraqi international Ali Adnan's praise has come for his ability to stem some of the bleeding that the Whitecaps have suffered on the left ... but he alone can't address the problem, which has seemingly plagued the 'Caps all season. If Nico Pasquotti can combine with a drifting Sergio Camargo, opportunities can open up for Dominique Malonga.

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