Ottawa Fury Canadian Championship matchup against semi-pro AS Blainville
Concurrent with the USL season, Ottawa Fury FC is competing in the annual Canadian Championship. Fury FC will face AS Blainville, a semi-professional soccer club and 2017 Première Ligue de soccer du Québec champions at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
The match, at Stade Desjardins in Laval, is the first of two-legs between Fury FC and ASB. Each team gets one home match and the winner will be decided according to the aggregate score after two matches.
What is the Canadian Championship?
The competition is exclusive to Canadian soccer clubs—Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact, Ottawa Fury FC, AS Blainville and Oakville Bluedevils—and the winner qualifies for the annual CONCACAF Champions League.
Also known as the Voyageurs Cup, Toronto FC won the 2017 edition of the tournament beating Ottawa Fury in the semifinals and Montreal Impact in the finals and had the opportunity to play in this year’s CONCACAF Champions League as a result where they finished runners-up to Mexican club CD Guadalajara.
Fury FC received a bye to the second qualifying round and the winner between Fury FC and ASB will qualify for a semifinals matchup against Toronto FC.
This year’s tournament also includes for the first time two semi-professional teams AS Blainville from the PLSQ and Oakville Bluedevils from League1 Ontario.
With the inception of the Canadian Premier League next year, the tournament will presumably grow to approximately 14 teams.
Going forward, with the concerted effort from the Canadian Soccer Association to develop the game at the professional level in Canada with CanPL and the FIFA World Cup visiting Canada in 2026, the Canadian Championship will surely be a platform to advertise Canadian soccer for years to come.
Canadian Championship important for Popovic and Ottawa Fury
A couple of weeks ago when asked about the Canadian Championship, Head Coach Nikola Popovic said, “For me, it’s more important than the USL.”
This is in keeping with the message Popovic has been sending the entire season. Popovic is determined to help build a Canadian soccer product at Fury FC and believes winning the Canadian Championship is a part of that building process.
“I would like to win the Canadian [Championship].
“For us, this competition is very, very important. It gives [qualification] to Champions League, so we are going to take this competition very seriously.”
Popovic is excited for the opportunity that the competition brings; a possible matchup against Toronto FC and a national stage for Fury FC’s project, but he understands that his team needs to perform against ASB first.
“To pass the [second qualifying round] and to face Toronto [FC] would be very important for this club, but we haven’t passed yet.
“We have to be very serious when we approach the [second qualifying round].
“Believe me, we will prepare like it is the finals of the Champions League.”
Still, expect some rotation and opportunities for younger players to get some playing time in Popovic’s lineup on Wednesday.
Fury FC will enter the first-leg after a disjointed schedule. The team continued its road trip to face Atlanta United 2 after a 4-2 loss to North Carolina FC, but the game was abandoned when conditions got too dangerous because of the risk of lightning.
Fury FC has lost its last two games and continues on the road in Laval this Wednesday night. It will take some adjustment after the abandoned match to refocus as a team to face an excited AS Blainville team.
The competition: AS Blainville
AS Blainville beat the Oakville Blue Devils from League1 Ontario in the first qualifying round. After winning the first-leg 2-1 at home, ASB completed the victory finishing the matchup 3-1 on aggregate.
As mentioned before, ASB is a semi-professional team, but should not be taken lightly. The two games against Fury FC provides ASB with a great opportunity to showcase what they have to offer as individuals and as a unit.
ASB is the 2017 PLSQ league and cup champions and is top of the PLSQ table for this current season as well.
Their most dangerous player will be former Ottawa Fury striker, Pierre-Rudolph Mayard. Mayard spent one season with Fury FC in 2014 and before that spent time with the Rochester Rhinos, Charleston Battery and Montreal Impact.
Unlike many of his teammates, Mayard has that proven professional quality. If Mayard can bring his teammates into the game with his pace, scoring ability and experience, ASB has a chance.
Mayard scored the deceive goal against the Blue Devils in ASB’s first-leg win and leads his team in scoring with seven goals in the PLSQ this season.
The ASB fans will be boisterous as they welcome Fury FC on Wednesday in the biggest match in the club’s history.