Rob Friend: 'I believe a CPL team will win the Canadian Championship very soon'
Pacific FC CEO Rob Friend believes it won't be long before a Canadian Premier League team challenges for the Voyageurs Cup final.
The Vancouver Island-based side is one of 13 teams that will be participating in the 2022 Canadian Championship, and will be taking on the winner of Atletico Ottawa vs. York United to open their campaign this year.
While we'll enjoy five preliminary round fixtures with 10 teams squaring off across four leagues, Pacific FC will need to wait for the quarter-finals before getting their shot at the Voyageurs Cup started, having earned a bye after being crowned 2021 Canadian Premier League champions.
But, even with that slight advantage over the other seven CPL sides, Friend believes it's only a matter of time before one of them book a spot in the final.
"Among the CPL, there's a confident conversation that one day we want to win this competition – and I believe someone from this league will win it very soon," Friend told Andi Petrillo during our live broadcast of the 2022 Canadian Championship draw.
"Whether that be us or another team? Obviously with our CPL hats on, we're always supporting our league. It's not going to be easy. The three MLS teams, this is a big deal for them, and they take it seriously. That was shown when we played Toronto FC in (last year's) semi-finals; it was their top squad. They take it very seriously, but they respect us.
"But, certainly, as a club, we have ambitions to win this competition one day."
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Beyond being a battleground from coast-to-coast, the Canadian Championship is also an extremely valuable and lucrative opportunity for CPL talent to showcase themselves against the very MLS teams they aspire to join.
It's what happened last year at BMO Field when Pacific FC took on Toronto FC, as Friend mentions, and may have helped entice the eventual signings of two Tridents to the Reds in Lukas MacNaughton and Kadin Chung.
While Pacific FC have silently added the likes of Amer Didic and Nathan Mavila to replace those losses, Friend figures the more and more these two leagues meet, the more that talent bridge will strengthen.
And with those additions, Friend enters 2022 feeling confident in the team he's built, too.
"At the end of the day, we kept our foundation, that we built from day one," he concluded. "Our core guys are still here, and we've added some dynamic players. So, it's going to be an exciting season."