The Canadian Soccer Association announced that the CSA Cup will move to a new format, starting in 2015. The 2014 edition will be unaffected, and continue as normal with the eventual winner gaining entry to the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage.
"Canada Soccer recognises that the transition may be confusing in the short term, but we're confident it will benefit the competition in the longer term," said CSA President Victor Montagliani.
2014 CSA Cup Fixture List
|23 April||Ottawa Fury FC||v||FC Edmonton||Harris Stadium|
|30 April||FC Edmonton||v||Ottawa Fury FC||Clarke Stadium|
|7 May||Toronto FC||v||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||National Soccer Stadium|
|7 May||TBD||v||Montreal Impact||TBD|
|14 May||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||v||Toronto FC||BC Place|
|14 May||Montreal Impact||v||TBD||Saputo Stadium|
Next year, the CSA Cup will be played out over July and August to accommodate the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, which is being hosted by Canada, and the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which will no doubt feature a number of players based in Canada.
The problem is that because the Group Stage begins at the same time, the CSA Cup cannot be used to determine Canada's entry into the competition for that year.
Instead, the CSA will use the 2014 Major League Soccer Table. This means that FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury FC, both of the North American Soccer League, have already been eliminated from contention.
The 2015 CSA Cup will still be held, but with no tangible reward beyond the Cup itself, it's likely that the tournament will become even more of a training ground for the MLS sides than it already is.
Therein lays the key to Edmonton and Ottawa's approval of the move. 2015 may represent the best chance the NASL sides are likely to see of winning the Cup for the foreseeable future.
Montagliani said he believes that the new format will allow the CSA Cup "to grow, becoming even more of a Canadian showcase of professional soccer as our sport continue to evolve."
From 2016 onward, the Cup will resume its previous format of a preliminary round, followed by the Semi-Finals, and then the Finals. It will be played over June and July, with the winner moving on to the Champions League in August.
"The move to the new timeframe was proposed in response to some of our participating clubs concerns and allows for more flexibility in the competition structure around professionalisation of the sport and potential expansion," added Montagliani.
"But more importantly, we believe it will make it a more enjoyable experience for fans across the country."