3 May: Ottawa Fury FC 1:0 FC Edmonton
10 May: FC Edmonton 2:3 Ottawa Fury FC
Ottawa Fury FC have advanced to the Canadian Championship semi-finals after a 4-2 series victory over FC Edmonton. Ottawa will next face Ontario rivals Toronto FC for the first-time ever in another home-and-away series, with the first leg set for 23 May at TD Place in the nation’s capital.
After the first leg finished 1:0 on a late Ottawa goal, the two sides scored five times in the 10 May return leg at Clarke Field in Edmonton. Sito and Steevan Dos Santos (two) scored for Ottawa while Jacob Keegan and Sainey Nyassi scored for FC Edmonton. Canadians Nik Ledgerwood (Edmonton) and Jamar Dixon (Ottawa) both recorded assists.
“It may have been exciting to watch (because) you probably did not know which way it was going to go,” said Paul Dalglish, Ottawa Fury FC head coach. “This is a wonderful group of players with great character and great mentality. It’s tough coming here, but they grinded it out.”
Ottawa Fury FC win series 4-2 on aggregate
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) May 11, 2017
Sito made it 2-0 on aggregate in the opening minute, stealing the ball from Allan Zebie before striding in and beating Tyson Farago with the left foot. In the 9th minute, he nearly made it 3-0, but his drive hit the crossbar and Steevan Dos Santos failed to score on the rebound.
In the 30th minute, an unusual mistake gave Jacob Keegan the opportunity to cut the series lead in half. Irving had dropped the ball in his area in preparation for a long kick, but he had forgotten that Keegan was behind him re-entering the field. Keegan quickly stole the ball, got around Irving, and put the ball into the back of the net.
In the 37th minute, Ottawa regained their 3-1 lead on a penalty. Dos Santos made no mistake with his right-footed shot.
In the second half, Ledgerwood fed Sainey Nyassi for FC Edmonton’s second goal in the 61st minute, cutting the series lead to 3-2. In the 67th minute, however, FC Edmonton were reduced to 10 men after Papé Diakité was shown a red card.
In added time with the series all but wrapped up, Dos Santos scored his second goal of the match on a long play forward from Jamar Dixon.
As the only all-Canada competition that leads to the international stage, including the CONCACAF Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup, the Canadian Championship is viewed as a prestigious event unparalleled in Canada.
New Canadian Content rules introduced by Canada Soccer in 2017 include the requirement that a minimum of three Canadians are in the starting lineup for all Canadian Championship matches which will result in more Canadian players taking the pitch than in any previous editions of the competition’s 10-year history.
In all, 13 Canadians dressed in the match. Home side FC Edmonton started Tyson Farago (goal), Allan Zebie, and captain Nik Ledgerwood, with Adam Straith featuring as a substitute in the second half. Nathan Ingham, Ben Fisk, and Mauro Eustáquio dressed but did not feature. Ottawa Fury FC started Callum Irving (goal), Eddie Edward, and Jamar Dixon while David Paulmin, Aron Mkungilwa and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère dressed but did not feature.
The Battle of the North
“We’re calling this competition The Battle of the North because it really is the pinnacle of Canadian club soccer, and the only competition that gives Canadian professional clubs an opportunity to advance to the international stage,” said Peter Montopoli, General Secretary for Canada Soccer. “Canadian clubs have come close to securing a spot in the FIFA Club World Cup in the past, including the Montréal Impact in 2015. We are confident we’ll see some world-class soccer in each of these upcoming Canadian Championship matches.”
The Path to the FIFA Club World Cup
The path to the FIFA Club World Cup started with the Qualifying Round, with Ottawa Fury FC now joining Canada’s three MLS teams for home and away Semi-final series. The home and away Final round will culminate with the final match on 27 June where the winner will be crowned 2017 Canadian Champion and raise the Voyageurs Cup. A special one-match Battle of the North playoff between the 2016 Canadian Championships winners Toronto FC and the 2017 winners will be played on 9 August in Toronto to determine who will advance, unless Toronto FC repeats as Canadian winners.
The winners of the Battle of the North will have earned its spot to compete in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, the region’s most prestigious club tournament, that qualifies its champion directly to the FIFA Club World Cup.
One of the most distinguished club level trophies in soccer, the FIFA Club World Cup pits the winners of CONCACAF Champions League against the winners of the five other continental championships: Asia’s AFC Champions League, Africa’s CAF Champions League, South America’s Copa Libertadores, Oceania’s OFC Champions League, and Europe’s UEFA Champions League. The competition also features the host nation’s national champions.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) May 11, 2017
Canada Soccer outlines return to soccer guidelines. The return to soccer guidelines provide member organizations with a five-step process, including a checklist of weighted questions known as the Return to Soccer Assessment Tool.