Cavalry FC attacker Nico Pasquotti (17) and Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Felipe Martins (8) battle for the ball during the first half during a Canadian Championship soccer match at Spruce Meadows. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports for CPL
THOMPSON: How rare is Cavalry’s CanChamp ‘cupset’?
The “magic of the cup” is a tried and true factor in cup competitions around the world — with giant-killings creating an almost yearly “everything is possible” narrative — but it’s been notably missing in the Great White North.
On Wednesday, Cavalry FC finally brought the magic.
Canada’s national cup competition saw it’s first true cupset when Cavalry FC took down Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 in the second leg of their Qualifying Round 3 tie.
It was the first time a Canadian Premier League team beat a Major League Soccer outfit, in the CPL’s first season, to boot. But the history doesn’t end there, with the CPL Spring season champions becoming one of the few non-MLS outfits to make inroads in the tournament now a dozen years old.
One in 10: Cavs break Toronto-Montreal-Vancouver undefeated run
Here’s a first.
Since the CanChamp switched to a knockout format in 2011, lower-ranked sides – from USL, NASL and the short-lived U.S.-based second tier – were winless through ten ties against MLS clubs before Cavalry’s Qualifying Round 3-clinching victory on Wednesday.
Zero triumphs over 10 attempts, with York9 FC’s to of Montreal Impact earlier in the evening bringing the total to double digits.
The bulk of those losses came from then-NASL club FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury making up “lower-ranked” status. The Eddies came one goal away in 2014 and 2015 against Montreal and Vancouver, respectively, but failed to advance due to losses on the road…
3 Fortresses: First MLS side home loss since 2009
Before Wednesday, MLS teams had gone undefeated against lower-tier opposition at home for over a decade, good enough for an all-time record of 13-1-2.
Last time an MLS side loss at home was 2008 when (guess who) current Cavalry FC assistant coach Martin Nash scored the lone goal in Vancouver’s win at BMO Field against Toronto FC.
The Cavs are only the second team to score two or more goals away to an MLS side, too, with that aforementioned Eddies tie with Montreal in 2014 bearing as many away goals underdogs to get at Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.
Cavs earn CanChamp’s first true ‘Cupset’?
Cavalry’s victory is only the sixth time a lower-ranked team has won a match in the Canadian Championship … but was Wednesday’s result at BC Place the competition’s first true “cupset”?
Qualifiers are needed, but you’ll understand.
The first CanChamp upset came in its first year, 2008, with the aforementioned Whitecaps’ win at BMO Field. Vancouver would do the same again a year later, in the reverse fixture, besting TFC 2-0 at Swangard Stadium.
Only problem? The Whitecaps didn’t finish higher than TFC in either tournament; fellow-USL side Montreal lifted the Voyageurs Cup in 2008 without beating MLS’ TFC, while the Reds would move on from that 2009 loss in Vancouver to perform the Miracle in Montreal a few weeks later, making both “giant-killings” by the Whitecaps, well, irrelevant.
Same goes for the remaining three cases of CanChamp upset; first-leg wins by Ottawa and FCE in the knockout rounds erased in the second.
Do these count as “cupsets”? Whitecaps, Fury, Impact and Eddies fans could all argue a case. But Cavalry’s is undeniable; defeating an MLS side over two legs and advancing past them in the competition.