Expansion CPL side Vancouver FC has been drawn to visit York United in the preliminary round of the 2023 Canadian Championship and could host the Vancouver Whitecaps in the quarterfinal if it advances.
The York United game will be just the second outing for Vancouver FC, which opens Canadian Premier League play on April 14 at provincial rival Pacific FC.
Tuesday night’s draw, conducted on TV at the OneSoccer studio, also threw up a potential quarterfinal matchup between CF Montreal and Toronto FC on the other side of the bracket if Montreal makes it past visiting Vaughan SC of League1 Ontario in the preliminary round.
Vancouver and Toronto received first-round byes as the 2022 champion and runner-up. The Whitecaps won in a penalty shootout July 26 after the final at B.C. Place Stadium finished tied at 1-1.
The knockout tournament kicks off April 18 with 14 clubs, including three first-time participants.
The four-round tournament features teams from Major League Soccer, CPL, League1 BC, League1 Ontario and Quebec’s Premier League (premiere ligue de soccer du Quebec or PLSQ).
New to the competition are Vancouver FC, League1 B.C.’s TSS Rovers FC from Richmond, and Quebec’s FC Laval.
Other matches in the preliminary round are Valour FC at TSS Rovers FC, Cavalry FC at Pacific FC, FC Laval at Forge FC, and Atletico Ottawa versus HFX Wanderers FC in a neutral-site match.
Other quarterfinals will see the Pacific-Cavalry winner host either TSS Rovers or Valour FC, while the Halifax-Ottawa winner entertains either Forge or Laval.
The Whitecaps will play their quarterfinal on the road against either York or Vancouver — and play the semifinal away from home if they advance.
Toronto FC, meanwhile, will open at home in a quarterfinal against the winner of CF-Montreal-Vaughan SC. TFC would host the semifinal if it progresses.
The preliminary round is set for April 18-20 with the quarterfinals May 9-11, the semifinals May 23-25 and the final in June on a date to be determined later.
It was known before the draw that Cavalry, HFX Wanderers, Valour and Vancouver FC would open on the road because of stadium availability and weather conditions.
The MLS season kicks off Feb. 25 while the CPL campaign opens April 14.
The Canadian Championship winner gets to hoist the Voyageurs Cup as well as qualify for the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the elite club competition in the region.
Due to the pandemic, the 2020 final was not played until June 24, 2022, with Toronto defeating Forge FC 5-4 in a penalty shootout in Hamilton after the game finished knotted at 1-1.
Toronto has won the Canadian Championship eight times, compared to five for Montreal and twice for Vancouver.
Tuesday’s draw assistants were Terry Dunfield and Tosaint Ricketts.
Dunfield was alternate captain when the Whitecaps were runner-up in 2011 and won the Voyageurs Cup with Toronto in 2012.
Ricketts, who announced his retirement as a player earlier in the day, was a back-to-back winner with Toronto in 2017 and 2018 before he won again in 2022 with the Vancouver Whitecaps.