These 3 clubs are making their Canadian Championship debut in 2023
Canada Soccer announced Tuesday the dates and format for the 2023 Canadian Championship, as 14 clubs across five leagues duke it out in the Battle of the North for the prestige of hoisting the Voyageurs Cup.
Among the gathered outfits from Major League Soccer (MLS), the Canadian Premier League (CPL), League1 Ontario (L1O), League1 B.C. (L1BC), and La Première ligue de soccer du Québec (PLSQ) are three new entrants making their tournament debut in 2023.
Whether they're new to the scene or emboldened provincial champions, here's a look at those new faces vying for the Voyageurs Cup
Vancouver FC: CPL expansion side
The newest entrant to the Canadian Premier League, Vancouver FC represents another competitor in the B.C. soccer landscape, and has its sights squarely set on disrupting the stronghold that the Vancouver Whitecaps have on the mainland.
Located in Langley, B.C. and headed up by Pacific FC's CEO Rob Friend, this new CPL expansion side has already made a few noteworthy moves, bringing on established league talents like Callum Irving, Elliot Simmons and Rocco Romeo as head coach Afshin Ghotbi builds out the inaugural squad.
Though they have yet to kick a ball, there's plenty of promise in this upstart side, who replaced FC Edmonton as the league's eighth team and, thus, the CPL's eighth entrant to the 2023 Canadian Championship. It'll be interesting to see if Vancouver FC can kick off their expansion season with a bang, and pull off some of the early-year heroics that other CPL sides like Cavalry FC and Pacific FC enjoyed, too.
FC Laval: PLSQ league champions
Among the many impressive groups of talent that comprise the PLSQ, none have been as brutally efficient, perhaps, as FC Laval.
You don't have to look far beyond their championship-winning 2022 PLSQ campaign to see the truth of that particular take, either; this team suffered just one single loss in 22 matches, posting up 52 goals (2nd most in the league) while conceding a paltry 13 (fewest in the league). Add in the fact that no one single player dominated the scoring charts – with Adama Makan Sissoko, Riad Bey and Josué Desire Youta all contributing fairly equally across the board – and you've got the makings of a genuine tournament threat.
Indeed, PLSQ coach of the year Boubacar Coulibaly has quietly assembled a fearsome outfit hungry for more success, particularly after their Coupe PLSQ finals loss to AS Blainville – a stain on an otherwise remarkable 2022 campaign. That loss could prove beneficial, though, as the sting of defeat can often serve as a wonderful motivator. You don't want to feel it again, after all.
Keep a close eye on this group; if there are giants to be slain, it may just come with a kiss (and a kick to the shin) from Québec's very own.
TSS Rovers FC: League1 B.C. finals champions
The inaugural League1 B.C. champions make up the newest addition to the Canadian Championship as a whole, bringing up the competition from 13 last year to 14 this year as a result of this new initiative on Canada's western front.
Unlike FC Laval before them, though, the TSS Rovers of Burnaby, B.C. aren't coming into this team off a particularly impressive regular season campaign; they finished second to Varsity FC over the course of 12 matches, and went on to win the inaugural title 5-4 on penalties after holding them to a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.
Fans will say 'That's just football!' and you wouldn't be wrong, but if this TSS Rovers side have aspirations for more, they'll need to muster up that same level of tenacity and drive that carried them through the first L1BC campaign. Boasting a resolute backline that conceded just 15 goals last season, TSS Rovers have the fundementals down, sure... but will it be enough to topple CPL or MLS opposition?
That's the question head coach Will Cromack now faces.