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3 talking points ahead of Cavalry FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps Canadian Championship second-leg

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Cavalry FC travels to Vancouver to play Major League Soccer’s Whitecaps in the second-leg of their third round Canadian Championship tie Wednesday. The clubs played out a 0-0 draw in the tie’s first-leg in Calgary July 10.

Cavalry FC, of the Canadian Premier League (CPL), will advance to the semifinals with a victory or a scored draw Wednesday. The Canadian Championship (or Voyageurs Cup) is a knockout tournament running parallel to league competition featuring all Canadian professional men soccer teams, similar in concept to England’s FA Cup.

Here are three talking points ahead of Wednesday’s game between Cavalry FC and Vancouver Whitecaps.

1. Cavalry FC makes all the right moves in preparing for Whitecaps

Cavalry FC maintained its perfect start to the Canadian Premier League season with a 1-0 victory over York9 FC at Spruce Meadows Sunday. This seemingly unremarkable result becomes rather impressive when considering Cavalry FC appeared to play the match slightly within itself, based on the lineup, tactics and overall performance. For example, regularly nailed-on starter Nico Pasquotti was a notable omission from the starting lineup, before getting 20 minutes in the second half.

Cavalry FC, Vancouver Whitecaps, Canadian Championship, Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

Cavalry FC’s head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr., right, reacts during the first-leg match against the Vancouver Whitecaps at ATCO Field July 10. Photo: ©Stuart Gradon/Total Soccer Project

Cavalry FC had an obvious eye on its midweek clash with the Whitecaps and Cavs’ head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. even admitted as much in his post-game media conference Sunday.

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But as has often been the case this season, Wheeldon Jr. seems to have given Cavalry FC the best opportunity at long-term success, while still maintaining that all important winning culture.

Wheeldon Jr.’s message to his squad will be,”enjoy the occasion.” The Calgary club has nothing to lose and everything to gain Wednesday.

Expect Cavalry FC to line up at full strength, prepared to play for a win.

2. Vancouver Whitecaps in terrible run of form

The Whitecaps have lost the last five games in Major League Soccer. They’re winless since May in all competitions. And they’ve only scored twice in the last six matches while conceding 17 times.

If ever there was a time to play the Vancouver Whitecaps, this is it.

And yet, the BC club will likely still be favourites to progress to the semifinals, based on its perceived superior calibre.

Yes, Cavalry FC has been excellent in its inaugural season and many fans and pundits believe Cavs’ head coach Wheeldon Jr. and his club are good enough and would be deserving of their reward should they push past the Whitecaps. But make no mistake, a loss to Cavalry FC would be thoroughly embarrassing for the Whitecaps – an established club playing in a higher-level league.

Marc Dos Santos, the Whitecaps manager, will know this is a big moment in the Whitecaps’ season, and perhaps beyond. This could be a decisive moment for the Vancouver club.

But, will the fear of losing to Cavalry FC be motivating or paralyzing?

3. Streaming service OneSoccer only place to watch Canadian Championship matches

OneSoccer is the streaming service carrying all the Canadian Premier League and Canadian Championship games this season. There are certain positives to having a dedicated streaming service for Canadian soccer. A single source provides a simple option for fans willing to find it and pay. This hasn’t always been the case for soccer in Canada. It’s a good first step.

And there’s potential for growth.

OneSoccer recently began showing Chinese Super League and Mexico’s Liga MX matches, with the promise of more leagues to come. These aren’t necessarily the leagues that are top of mind for everyone, but it shows intent. Having more leagues translates to more exposure for the streaming service, and for the fledgling CPL and its clubs.

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But it’s unfortunate that the most exciting and most anticipated national Canadian championship in years, possibly ever, isn’t available in some form on mainstream national broadcasters such as TSN, Sportsnet or CBC.

Hopefully, there’ll be some wheeling and dealing between the relevant parties in the future, eventually leading to some Canadian Championship matches getting mainstream exposure, as CBC has done with a selection of CPL games.

But until then, these Voyageurs Cup matches will likely only be seen by the most motivated of Canadian soccer fans. More’s the pity.


About Author

Photographer and Writer | Stuart Gradon is soccer journalist and web communications professional. He covers Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League and Canada's national teams. He has also worked on assignment at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 and FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010.

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