The Canadian Premier League will take a page from Mexico’s Liga MX in its inaugural season.
The CPL released its 2019 schedule along with a unique format that may have some soccer fans scratching their heads.
The 28 regular season match schedule will be split into two distinct halves: spring competition (10 games) and fall competition (18 games). The standings will reset in between the competitions with the first-place team from spring meeting the first-place team from fall in the first ever Canadian Premier League Championship.
Hamilton’s Forge FC will play the first-ever match April 27 vs. York9 FC in the “905 Derby” at 1 p.m. at Tim Hortons Field.
The regular season table will be based on a standard soccer point system: three points for a win, one point for a draw, 0 points for a loss.
If the same club wins both seasonal competitions, the team with the next highest cumulative point total across both competitions earns a berth in the final.
Mexico has used a similar format since 1996, although rather than spring and fall competitions, Liga MX uses Apertura (opening) from July to December and the Clausura (closing) from January to May.
According to Travis Yoesting of The18.com, Argentina was the first country to adopt the format back in 1967, in part for weather concerns. Initially, the break between the two halves of the season let teams avoid the heat of summer.
Now, the split has more to do with fan engagement and player motivation.
By resetting the table, it allows teams a fresh start and aims to keep fans interested for longer stretches of the campaign.
Beyond the regular season, Canadian Premier League clubs will play in additional competitions in 2019.
The Canadian Championship will allow CPL teams to test their abilities against other leagues, such as Major League Soccer and League1 Ontario. The five-round competition will culminate in the Voyageurs Cup.
The winner of the Canadian Championship earns a berth in the international club competition, CONCACAF Champions League.
Forge FC, Valour FC, and FC Edmonton will also have a route to the separate CONCACAF League. The club with the best head-to-head record between the three by July 1 will be awarded a spot in the tournament.
The Champions League is the highest prize in the CONCACAF region. No Canadian or American team has won the CONCACAF Champions League.
According to the league, there are future plans for the winner of the Canadian Premier League Championship to be awarded an automatic berth in the CONCACAF League.
Other notable dates for Forge FC are the “Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame Game” on May 11 vs. Cavalry FC, and the “Black & Gold Game” vs. Valour FC at June 15.
CPL games will be broadcast through MEDIAPRO, the Spanish-based multimedia communications group behind beIN Sports.
The 10-year media partnership includes over 2,000 CPL games and related content, as well as all Canadian national team games during that span.