Canadians join ranks for 2016 Amway Canadian Championship
Posted on 5 March 2016 in Canadian Championship
There will be some new Canadian blood injected into the Amway Canadian Championship this 2016 season. It all starts 11 May when the preliminary round kicks off for the ninth edition of Canada Soccer's professional soccer title race.
With the onset of a new professional season, Canada's top five clubs have all added new players for the upcoming campaign. Vancouver, Toronto, and Montréal will compete in both the Championship and Major League Soccer, while Edmonton and Ottawa will compete in both the Championship and the North American Soccer League.
As reigning Canadian champions, Vancouver Whitecaps FC will have the added honour of competing in 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League starting in July. In turn, this year's Canadian winners will qualify for the following CONCACAF Champions League campaign in 2017-18.
Either FC Edmonton or Ottawa Fury FC will challenge Vancouver in this year's semi-final stage starting 1 June. From the off-season, both sides have added Canadian blood to their first-team lineup, with Alberta's Nik Ledgerwood joining FC Edmonton and Ontario's Marcel de Jong joining Men's National Team teammate Julian de Guzman in Ottawa.
Ledgerwood is the star signing from the winter break. He has made 45 international appearances for Canada Soccer's Men's National Team. He is a product of the Canada Soccer Pathway, having grown up in Lethbridge and played for Alberta's provincial teams (including a gold medal at the 2001 Canada Games).
In Ottawa, potential Championship debutants are 29-year old de Jong, 25-year old Andrew MacRae, and 26-year old Mozesh Gyorio. Canadian Kyle Porter is also new to the Ottawa franchise, although he previously played in the Championship for FC Edmonton in 2011 and 2012.
Like Ledgerwood, de Jong is a member of Canada Soccer's Men's National Team. A veteran of 41 international appearances, de Jong joined the Ottawa franchise at the start of March 2016.
Following the preliminary phase on 11 and 18 May, four clubs will compete in the Championship's semi-final phase on 1 and 8 June. The winner then advances to the Grand Final, with a home-and-away series scheduled for the weeks of 20 and 27 June (dates TBD).
In Vancouver, the potential Championship debutant is 21-year old Fraser Aird, who is on loan from Glasgow Rangers FC in Scotland. The Scarborough-born right back joins a squad that includes last year's George Gross Trophy MVP, 23-year old Russell Teibert of Niagara Falls.
In Montréal, 25-year old Kyle Bekker could make his first appearance in the Championship with the Impact, having previously worn Toronto FC colours in 2013 and 2014.
In Toronto, 29-year old Will Johnson will make his Championship debut after his off-season move to his city of birth. Johnson is a regular in Canada Soccer's Men's National Team lineup, having won Canadian Player of the Year honours in 2013 and having made 38 international appearances through February 2016.
Throughout the 2016 Amway Canadian Championship, clubs will identify a 23-player roster in the days before the match. Then on each respective match day, 18 players will dress for eligible selection by the club's head coach.
Since 2008, a total of 130 Canadian professional footballers have participated in the annual Amway Canadian Championship.