The Canadian Premier League announced the rest of its 2021 regular season schedule on Monday afternoon, as clubs prepare to finish up The Kickoff in Winnipeg and return to their home cities across the country. After the better part of two years since six of the seven original teams have been able to play in their own stadium, and with Atlético Ottawa yet to play a home game at all, clubs will finally return home after the Winnipeg bubble, starting with a derby game between York United and Forge on July 30 at York Lions Stadium. The CanPL.ca team -- Benedict Rhodes, Brady Reid, Charlie O'Connor-Clarke, Kristian Jack and Marty Thompson -- have each picked a game that they're most looking forward to during the rest of the season.
Benedict Rhodes -- Atlético Ottawa vs HFX Wanderers - Saturday, Aug. 14 at TD PlaceAfter playing their entire inaugural 2020 campaign -- and the first eight games of their second season -- away from home, August 14th will be a special day for Atlético Ottawa and their supporters as the club finally plays their first home game. The club, and their parent club Atlético Madrid, have made a lot of investments into the team, so that first home game will be a reward for all of their efforts. The match, a 3 pm kickoff at TD Place, will be against HFX Wanderers, their closest non-Ontario rival. It will be a momentous occasion in the history of the team, and the league, as soccer returns to our nation's capital.
Brady Reid -- Forge FC vs Cavalry FC - Tuesday, Oct. 26 at Tim Hortons FieldIn a repeat of the 2019 Finals, the last edition of Cavalry-Forge for the 2021 season -- at least for the regular season -- could have serious implications for the final standings when the two CPL powerhouses do battle at Tim Hortons Field in late October. With only one match remaining for both clubs following this fixture (on November 6th when all eight sides will kickoff simultaneously to close the season), it's more than possible that the outcome of this game decides who finishes first heading into a four team playoff format; at the very least home field advantage could be up for grabs. Following a pair of fixtures against one another at The Kickoff in Winnipeg, this tie will mark their first meeting in over three months. Add in the return of Anthony Novak to Hamilton for the first time in a Cavalry shirt and the stage is set for an emotionally charged battle between the Hammers and Cavalry.
Charlie O'Connor-Clarke -- HFX Wanderers vs Atlético Ottawa - Monday, Aug. 2 at Wanderers GroundsThis one has the makings of something truly special. The Wanderers will host the matinee showdown on Natal Day, and a midday match on a civic holiday in front of the Kitchen might just be the perfect catharsis for Nova Scotians after the pandemic. The triumphant return of football to Halifax after such a long absence is sure to be an emotional day; Wanderers Grounds was one of the most fascinating venues in the CPL in 2019, so it'll be wonderful to see the club back there. It's not hard to picture now: Akeem Garcia scoring for the Wanderers in front of their passionate supporters? It'll be an unforgettable moment. Plus, last time an Ottawa-based side played in Halifax, we were treated to an excellent showdown in the 2019 Canadian Championship. Atlético Ottawa are the closest team to Halifax geographically, too, so they're sure to become quite familiar with each other over the years. This will be an entertaining new chapter in a matchup that will grow in entertainment value the more these teams square off.
Kristian Jack -- York United vs Forge - Friday, July 30 at York Lions StadiumFriday Night Lights. The first game out of the bubble sees York United return home to host the two-time reigning champions in a local clash that has the makings of a real classic. Forge will begin their Concacaf League journey after this game but before welcoming fans to that party at Tim Hortons Field they get to escape the bubble and express themselves down the QEW & 401 highways and take on a young and motivated York team that have watched but been unable to test themselves against the champions so far in Winnipeg. These sets of supporters have been waiting for moments like this for far too long and are presented with a gift right out of the gate as the second part of the schedule kicks off in style at York Lions Stadium.
Marty Thompson -- FC Edmonton vs Valour FC - November 6, 2021 at Clarke StadiumThe last day of the CanPL season could have some pretty serious permutations. Four matches will kickoff simultaneously; HFX Wanderers FC vs, Atletico Ottawa, York United vs. Forge FC, Cavalry FC vs. Pacific FC, and FC Edmonton vs. Valour FC. CanPL’s top four teams will make the playoffs following that day, giving fans at home and in-stadium a proper race to the very end. Taking a look at these matchups, I expect the Eddies hosting Valour at Clarke Stadium will be the one match to watch as they could be two teams scrapping for a third or fourth spot at the very end. Alan Koch’s side is growing into their time in Winnipeg and while they sit adrift from the pack, they are real contenders to be on the playoff bubble come Fall. At the same time, Valour has been thriving at home – but can they maintain a top-of-the-table pace when play returns to the other seven home markets? Something makes me think Edmonton-Winnipeg could be a decider. Also, I mean, this will bring soccer to Alberta’s capital in November so you never quite know what Mother Nature will have in store. Grabbing a season-defining three points in three inches of snow sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
Check out the entire 2021 schedule here.