Wednesday, April 29, 2009
TAMPA, FL – The balancing act of playing in multiple competitions will begin Wednesday, May 6 when the Vancouver Whitecaps visit Toronto FC in the opening match of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. The Caribbean Football Union’s Semifinal pairings are also nearly set for the Puerto Rico Islanders.
The 2008 USL First Division regular season champion and league runners-up already know two of the three teams that will join them in the Caribbean final four as they aim to return to the CONCACAF Champions League, where they made an amazing run to the Semifinals before being eliminated in penalties by Mexico’s Cruz Azul. The Trinidadian sides San Juan Jabloteh and W Connection advanced from the Second Round of the CFU tournament. They will likely be joined by Haiti’s Tempete FC, who holds a 4-0 lead from their first leg match heading into Friday’s second leg contest against Greenbay Hoppers of Antigua.
With three berths available for the CFU, the Islanders will need to post a victory in the Semifinals or in the Third Place contest to return to the Champions League. The draw for the Semifinals, to be played May 15 in Trinidad, will likely be held early next week by CONCACAF.
Last year, the Islanders played San Juan Jabloteh in the Third Place match after the two were defeated in the Semifinals by Trinidad’s Joe Public and Jamaica’s Harbor View, respectively. The Islanders advanced with a 1-0 victory at home and a scoreless draw on the road.
The defending USL-1 champion Whitecaps will be looking to replicate their success against Toronto from a year ago, having defeated the Major League Soccer side 1-0 in Toronto and playing to a 2-2 draw at home. Their two losses to the Montreal Impact allowed their league rivals to advance to the Champions League as the Canadian title holders.
The defending NCC champion Impact will play their first match of the competition the following Wednesday, May 13 – also at Toronto. Last year, Montreal fell at home 1-0 to Toronto, but won the title on a 1-1 draw at BMO Field in the final game of the competition.