14 things to know about the 2023 Canadian Championship


With the Official Draw for the Canadian Championship just around the corner, we take a look 14 things to know about the 2023 competition, from the record number of Canadian teams to the earliest start date ever on Tuesday 18 April.

The Battle of the North for the Voyageurs Cup:

The Canadian Championship is Canada Soccer’s highest domestic soccer competition, featuring 14 clubs from five different leagues playing 13 matches across four rounds. Winners of the 2023 Canadian Championship lift the Voyageurs Cup and qualify to the annual international competition, Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League. Winners of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup.

14 – Biggest number of clubs ever:

With the addition of the League1 BC winners, the 2023 Canadian Championship will feature 14 clubs for the first time ever, one more than last season. Twelve clubs will start in the First Round before two more clubs – 2022 champions Vancouver Whitecaps FC and runners up Toronto FC – start in the next round, the Quarter-Finals.

Three first-time participants:

Along with League1 BC winners TSS Rovers from Richmond, two other clubs will make their Canadian Championship debuts in April 2023: Canadian Premier League expansion side Vancouver FC and Québec Premier League (PLSQ) winners FC Laval.

Every Championship match is a knock-out match:

For the second year in a row, every Canadian Championship match is a knockout match, from the First Round through to the Final. There are no replays and no extra time, which means that if the two clubs are tied after 90 minutes, Kicks from the Penalty Mark will be used to determine who advances to the next round or, in the case of the Final, lifts the Voyageurs Cup.

Three or more Canadians start every match for each club:

Throughout the Canadian Championship, each club must feature three or more Canadian players in their starting lineup. Introduced in 2017, the “Canadian content” rule ensures that Canadian players remain a priority in the Canadian Championship. This past season on average, 13 Canadians started each Canadian Championship match (6.5 per club).

Regular substitutions and concussion substitutions:

Each club can use up to a maximum of five substitutions in a Canadian Championship match, although each club’s substitutions can only stop the game three different times (not counting the half time break). Each club is also permitted to use up to two “concussion substitutes” in case a concussion occurs or is suspected.

Clubs can select up to 30 players for their Canadian Championship roster:

Each club can nominate up to 30 players for their Canadian Championship roster, although only 18 players will be eligible for any particular match. Clubs do not have to nominate all 30 players at the start of the competition, so they can leave spots open to add players, but may not exceed 30 players over the course of the Canadian Championship.

Canadian academy players can be called up for Canadian Championship matches:

Clubs are permitted to call up a maximum of six registered Canadian academy players to their first team throughout the Canadian Championship. Before a call up can be made, the club must make an official request for approval to Canada Soccer explaining the club’s rationale.

Players can only play for one club in a Canadian Championship season:

While players may get transferred during a season, they can only play for one club in a Canadian Championship season. This means that once a player makes an appearance with one club in the 2023 Canadian Championship, he is “cup tied” to that club and can’t feature with any other club for the rest of the 2023 Canadian Championship.

Match balls for the Canadian Championship:

The match balls for the Canadian Championship are supplied by the Home team for each match. On the day before each match, the Home team must supply their visiting opponent with 20 balls, similar to the ones to be used for the match, for practice at their Official Training.

George Gross Memorial Trophy:

Last year, Ryan Gauld won the George Gross Memorial Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the 2022 Canadian Championship. In making a significant impact on the Whitecaps’ winning run, he recorded two assists and was involved in the offensive build up towards five of the the Whitecaps’ six goals across four rounds.

Toyota Best Young Canadian Player Award:

In 2022, Vancouver Whitecaps FC winger Ryan Raposo was named the Toyota Best Young Canadian aged 23 of younger. This year, it will be any young Canadian born 2000 or later that will be eligible for the 2023 award. Selection for the Toyota Best Young Canadian Player Award considers the player’s skill, their positive attitude, their embodiment of Canadian character and values, and their fair play throughout the Canadian Championship.

Three Canadian champions since 2008:

To date, only the competition’s three original sides – Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Toronto FC and CF Montréal – have won the Canadian Championship. Vancouver are the reining winners and have won the Championship twice while original winners CF Montréal have won the title five times. Toronto FC are the Championship’s all-time leaders with eight titles, including four in a row from 2009 to 2012.

18 April – earliest start date ever:

This marks the first time since 2015 that the Canadian Championship kicks off in April, with this year’s opening matches scheduled for Tuesday 18 April 2023. In all, there will be six matches featuring 12 clubs in the First Round of the 2023 Canadian Championship from 18-20 April, with the match ups to be determined through the Official Draw on Tuesday 31 January.