FC Edmonton, Ottawa Fury look to advance in Canadian Championship

FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury FC will meet in the second leg of their opening round series of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday.
The North American Soccer League's sides of FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury FC will meet in the second-leg of their opening round series of the Amway Canadian Championship (ACC) on Wednesday with the winner progressing to face MLS' Montreal Impact next month.

After both teams played to a scoreless draw in the first-leg last week at Carleton University's Keith Harris Stadium, the return match is set for Wednesday at Clarke Stadium in Edmonton at 7:30 pm MT (9:30 pm ET) and it will streamed live on canadasoccer.com/championship as well as BT Edmonton at www.breakfasttelevision.ca

"This is a fantastic occasion," said FC Edmonton coach Colin Miller. "It's a huge game for both teams. We've played well so far this year and we know that we're not too far away from a win. Hopefully we'll have a big crowd behind us to cheer the lads on."

The NASL club that wins this ACC series will advance to the semifinals and will meet the Montreal Impact. This would be the first time in tournament's seven-year history that either club would face the Impact, with the matches set for May 7 and 14.   Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC will meet in the other in the semifinal.  The eventual winner of Canada's domestic cup qualifies for the 2014/15 CONCACAF Champions League.

The NASL teams come off this past Saturday's Spring Season Week 3 encounters, with Ottawa posting its first league victory by defeating the visiting Carolina RailHawks, 4-0, while Edmonton dropped a 1-0 decision on the road to the current leader Minnesota United FC.

Fury FC coach Marc Dos Santos is looking forward to Wednesday's encounter with the Eddies: "These are the last 90 minutes of a 180 minute game. It's tied at halftime and I believe both teams have a great opportunity to qualify. It will be a game where the team that commits less mistakes will be in the semifinals."

Fans are also encourage to follow @CanadaSoccerEN on Twitter using #canChamp for tournament updates, but also to connect with the five Canadian professional clubs involved for live match coverage (@impactmontreal, @OttawaFuryFC, @torontofc, @FCEdmontonNow, @WhitecapsFC). Match highlights and reports will be available on canadasoccer.com/championship as well as on CanadaSoccerTV.

The Amway Championship final home-and-away that will crown the winner will be played on May 28 and June 4, with the winner receiving a coveted berth into the CONCACAF Champion's League.

CONCACAF announces deal renewal with traffic sports for sponsorship rights

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) announced that Traffic Sports has purchased the sponsorship rights to all of the Confederation's properties, including the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League, to become its official Corporate Partnership Agency.

Traffic Sports also holds select exclusive commercial rights to the Copa America and Copa Libertadores in South America, the Copa do Brasil and the North American Soccer League, where it owns the Carolina RailHawks and Fort Lauderdale Strikers. It also owns clubs in Portugal and Brazil.

The multi-year renewal agreement includes rights to the next four editions of the biennial Gold Cup (2015, 2017, 2019, 2021), as well as seven additional seasons of the annual CONCACAF Champions League, from the 2015/16 edition through the 2021/22 tournament. The deal also incorporates rights to all other events organized by the Confederation, such as youth tournaments, Olympic qualifiers and Futsal.

"We are very pleased to extend our relationship with Traffic Sports," said CONCACAF President, Jeffrey Webb. "During the past year they have contributed tremendously to our mission of developing the game at all levels by aligning our properties with companies that want to become true partners of our sport. We look forward to years of successful partnership."

Under terms of the renewed deal, Traffic Sports will continue to package and market all CONCACAF properties globally, with assets that include field of play branding, use of tournament marks, unique experiences, and hospitality, among others.

"We are grateful to CONCACAF for entrusting Traffic with the continued development and growth of its corporate partnership program," said Aaron Davidson, President of Traffic Sports USA.  "Over the first 17 months of our current agreement, we have focused on laying a new foundation for the region's flagship tournaments, the Gold Cup and Champions League.  And now after growing Gold Cup sponsorship over 50% in 2013 and validating the CONCACAF Champions League as the most important professional club tournament in the region, we are very well-positioned to exponentially grow the Confederation's corporate partnerships over the next two World Cup cycles."

Among the world's leading sports event and management companies, Traffic Sports has nearly 34 years of experience in the business.  The Sao Paulo, Brazil-based company has organized and commercialized numerous international soccer events, including previous editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the CONCACAF Champions League's predecessor - the Champions Cup, and CONCACAF Qualifying for the FIFA World Cup.  It has accomplished the same with South America's Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana, Copa America, CONMEBOL Qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, and the FIFA Club World Championship 2000.

In 2012, Traffic Sports was named the commercial rights partner for the successful 2013 Gold Cup. The firm is also currently handling commercial rights for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Rowdies travel to Orlando City for I-4 derby first leg

NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies will travel to face Orlando City SC of USL PRO in the first-leg of the I-4 Derby, presented by United World Soccer, at the ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex on Wednesday, April 30, at 7:30 pm ET.

2014 Records (W-T-L)
Tampa Bay (NASL): 0-2-1
Orlando City (USL Pro): 4-2-0

Series History
The first I-4 Derby was played last year when the Rowdies were still in preseason. Orlando won both legs by a 3-2 score. The Rowdies are 0-3-1 all-time against the Austin Aztex, the club which moved to Orlando overnight in 2010.

Last Meeting
The Rowdies and Lions haven't met since the second leg of last year's I-4 Derby at Al Lang Stadium in March 30, 2013. Kevin Molino and Adama Mbengue put Orlando up 2-0 by the 33rd minute before goals by Takuya Yamada just before halftime and Amani Walker just after the break leveled the score. Orlando loanee Dom Dwyer scored the winner in extra time.

Rowdies Notes
The Rowdies are coming off their first loss of 2014, a 3-1 loss to the defending NASL finalist Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday night at Al Lang Stadium. Defending NASL Golden Ball winner Georgi Hristov scored his first goal of the season, assisted by Darel Russell. Goalkeeper Matt Pickens successfully saved his second penalty of the season, while forward Carl Cort made his season debut as a substitute in the 64th minute. The Rowdies will look for their first win of the NASL Season this Saturday when they travel to face the San Antonio Scorpions, who just defeated the New York Cosmos this past Saturday.

Scouting Orlando
Orlando City returns to Florida after a two-match road trip in third-division league play. The Lions beat FC Dallas Reserves 3-2 and Oklahoma City Energy 2-1. Molino leads the team in scoring with four goals. After finishing second in the 2013 USL Pro Regular Season, they would go on to defeat the Charlotte Eagles 7-4 in the USL Pro Championship match. On November 19, 2013, OCSC officially became Major League Soccer's 21st franchise, joining the league in 2015.

Head Coach Ricky Hill
"We know it's going to be a competitive game. I'm hoping that we can turn the tables on Orlando. This year, we're more prepared than we have been in the past, fitness-wise, conditioning-wise and match readiness. We're looking forward to a game whereby we can exercise some of the disappointment from Saturday night. It's important that the guys come out with a positive mentality to get back into a winning habit for the rest of our league schedule. The first thing is to ensure that we keep a clean sheet for as long as we can, but outside of that, we need to then get our rhythm and take the game to Orlando and score some goals."