Hamilton’s Forge FC and CPL foes to face new playoff format


Published March 15, 2023 at 3:50 pm

Bobby Smyrniotis-coached Forge FC will faces a new fork in the road when the Hamilton soccer club goes forth in search of a fourth league crown in the Canadian Premier League.

The league announced today that it is adding an additional fifth team to the North Star Shield playoff field. The spoils of finishing first overallvare also being altered. The club at the top of the table on Oct. 7 will be officially crowned CPL regular season champion. But they will host the second-place team in their opening match of the playoffs, with the victor earning home field for the championship game.

The bracket will be somewhat similar to the page playoff format in curling. The teams in that 1 vs. 2 game have an extra life, with the losing team hosting a semifinal game. The format also ensures each of the league’s top four finishers will have a home playoff date.

“We are excited about this new format because it provides additional incentive to perform well during our regular season and makes every single playoff match essentially a final,” CPL commissioner Mark Noonan says. “Win and advance or lose and go home.”

All rounds with be single-elimination. For the first time, any playoff match that is tied after 90 minutes of regulation play will go to extra time — two 15-minute halves played to completion. If a match is still tied after 30 minutes of extra time, the game will be decided in a penalty shootout.

The 2023 CPL Final is scheduled to take place the Oct. 28-29 weekend. Playoff dates are subject to change depending on venue availability.

The playoff champion will earn one of CPL’s two spots in the 2024 Concacaf Champions League, with the other spot going to its regular season champion.

In each of the last two seasons, the regular-season runner-up won the playoff championship — with Forge FC on each side of the result. Last fall, Forge defeated Atlético Ottawa in the championship game in the nation’s capital for its third title in four seasons. In the climax to the ’21 season, Pacific FC tripped up Forge in the final at Tim Hortons Field.

The league will again have eight teams in ’23, with expansion Vancouver FC replacing the shuttered Edmonton FC. Franchise rights to Windsor and Saskatoon have been awarded.

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising