Spring has undeniably arrived: the Première ligue de soccer du Québec (PLSQ) has recently revealed its 2017 schedule. Once again, seven clubs will battle it out in the top league of the province. Here are a few things to look out for this season.
Despite the disappearance of the Fury FC Academy and Lakeshore, seven clubs will again face one another this season thanks to a couple of newcomers. First, the long-awaited arrival of Dynamo de Québec, who will take the field this year for its inaugural season in PLSQ. The Québec City region soccer fans are ecstatic and will be able to support their new team on three different fields this year, mainly at PEPS (Université Laval) and Honco Soccer Complex (Lévis). The team will even play one home game about one hour south of the city, in Saint-Georges, where it will face AS Blainville on June 3. The Dynamo will play its first-ever game May 14 in Lévis against current champion Mont-Royal Outremont.
Like a lightning strike out of the blue, CS Saint-Hubert surprised everyone this winter by announcing that they would field a team in PLSQ starting in 2017. The idea of a South Shore derby against CS Longueuil makes everyone eager. Fortunately, supporters will not have to wait long for the first matchup between the two clubs: Saint-Hubert will host Longueuil on May 6 in the opening game of the season. Saint-Hubert will play its home games at Parc Rosanne-Laflamme.
Some New and Interesting Developments
Apart from the arrival of new clubs in the league, the biggest change that has everyone talking in the local soccer community is the Canadian Championship reform slated for 2018. The PLSQ champion (as well as the League 1 Ontario winners) will from now on qualify for the Canadian Championship of the following year. However, this long-awaited announcement by the Canadian Soccer Association made victim: the Division 3 Interprovincial Cup is now a thing of the past. Details on the participation of PLSQ and L1O clubs in the Canadian Championship haven’t been officially revealed yet.
Another important change to note: FC Gatineau was taken over by, AS Hull. The region had agreed to launch and take care of the team until a club was ready to take charge. It is now done. Although ASH has taken control, the team will keep its name. However, it now has a new logo and new colours.
Alongside the South Shore derby, the first weekend of the season will put Cup winners AS Blainville under the spotlight, hosting the new version of FC Gatineau on May 6. The next day will see League champions CS Mont-Royal Outremont hosting FC Lanaudière. The Dynamo will start its season the following week, at home against CSMRO. The first matchup between Cup winners and league winners is scheduled for June 18, when Blainville hosts the “Griffons”.
Like Québec, FC Lanaudière will also play its home games on three different fields. Stade municipal in Joliette, Centre multisports in Terrebonne and Parc André-Courcelles in L’Assomption will each host their share the action.
For the full schedule, click here.
The PLSQ CUP is naturally part of the program this season, but this time with a twist due to the Jeux de la Francophonie being held this summer. With the stakes now being higher due to the Canadian Championship spot available, the league decided to devote the last three weeks of July to Cup play, so that no team would be at a disadvantage in League play should some of their key players be called up to play in the Jeux de la Francophonie. The first and second legs of round 1 will be played on July 15-16 and July 22-23 respectively, and the first leg of the semi-finals will be played the following weekend, on July 29. Second legs of the semi-finals will be played on September 9 while the final will be held, as usual, after the last weekend of League play (October 28).
2016 Cup winners, AS Blainville, will start its Cup run in the semis, which means the team will have a two-week rest period during the second half of the month of July. Can coach Emmanuel Macagno and its men take advantage of it?
Here are the Cup brackets for 2017:
Clearly, a wind of positivity has been blowing on PLSQ fields for a while, but the upcoming season adds quite a bit to it. The overall interest in the league has been boosted by the fact that its champion will gain access to a bigger national competition. The new clubs are brimming with confidence and will be creating new rivalries. Clubs are now benefiting from better visibility, which could largely increase this season. And from now on, the bigger clubs will not have the option of overlooking their PLSQ counterparts, since they could eventually have to face them in the Canadian Championship. Everything is set for a memorable season. Who will win the right to prove its worth in the Canadian Championship? We’ll know at the end of October!