3 key storylines to watch in opening round of 2022 Canadian Championship
The 2022 Canadian Championship bracket is set, with 10 of the 13 competing teams spanning four leagues now ready to begin preparations for their preliminary round match-ups.
But with this level of unprecedented Canadian soccer coverage, "how, pray tell, can anyone keep up with it all!?" you may ask?
We got you! Here are the three biggest storylines to watch for out of the first round of this year's Battle of the North:
Al Classico kicks off rivalry-laden affair
Cavalry FC of Calgary vs. FC Edmonton. It's one of the Canadian Premier League's most natural rivalries, one that needed no prodding or pursuading to form. How could it not be?
These cross-Alberta counterparts have met plenty of times over the last three years, but each encounter brings with it a heightened level of competition, especially as FC Edmonton seemed to be continually improving.
That... might not be the case here anymore, with the Eddies undergoing a dramatic rebuild, so this could really be a tremendously one-sided battle.
But, if you believe in underdog stories, and Edmonton's group of misfits somehow come together, perhaps this match is where a Canadian soccer Cinderella story starts.
The brothers Gutierrez meet in Vancouver
When the Vancouver Whitecaps and Valour FC of Winnipeg meet at BC Place Stadium, it won't just be a first-ever clash between these two sides; it's also a family reunion for twin brothers Cristian and Diego Gutierrez.
The two have yet to square off in competitive domestic action, so watching them face each other as opponents will be a treat. But, beyond the family connection, there's another key element tying these two teams together.
Valour FC's head coach Phillip Dos Santos? He only took the job after he and his own brother Marc Dos Santos were let go by the Whitecaps in 2021, the result of losing to Pacific FC in last year's Canadian Championship.
Reunions across the park make this a must-watch match over on the Canadian west coast, but on the flip-side?
Vancouver defeating Valour could also set them up for a rematch against Cavalry FC in the quarter-finals, who knocked them out of the 2020 tournament. And, a win there could see them paired up with Pacific FC in the semis, who knocked them out of the 2021 tournament. Redemption tour? We'll see!
We're heading to... Alumni Stadium!?
One of the best parts of a live draw is that anything can happen – and, frankly, often does.
Take League1 Ontario champs Guelph United, for instance. They went into this draw as newcomers to the competition, perhaps happy just to be here.
But after the draw? They can now look forward to hosting HFX Wanderers FC at Alumni Stadium in the preliminary round, and, should they win... would then host regional giants Toronto FC in the quarter-finals!
Having TFC at home is a massive financial draw for the club. It's akin to the touch of magic we often see in the English FA Cup, when smaller teams are drawn with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, or Liverpool, for instance.
On the flip side... hosting Toronto FC at Wanderers Grounds in Halifax would also be an incredible opportunity out in Nova Scotia. You can bet Jacob Shaffelburg has a preference here.
The full bracket, below. Remember - every match of the 2022 Canadian Championship is available on OneSoccer.