New team, new format for Canadian Premier League in P.E.I. return

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Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

Bianca Andreescu won’t defend U.S. Open title

The 20-year-old Canadian announced today she wouldn’t be returning to New York for the Grand Slam tournament set to begin Aug. 31. Andreescu cited her fitness, saying “I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the COVID pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.” The Mississauga, Ont., native had previously indicated she would defend her crown, but hasn’t played professionally since suffering a knee injury last October.

The loss of Andreescu further diminishes the star power at the 2020 U.S. Open. Reigning men’s champion Rafael Nadal, along with Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios, withdrew on the men’s side, while top-ranked Ash Barty and fellow top-10 combatants Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens dropped out of the women’s bracket. Men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic confirmed today he will play after being “fully recovered” from his bout with COVID-19. The tournament will be held without fans due to the pandemic.

Andreescu has yet to compete at any of the four WTA tournaments since its return to play as injuries continue to wear down the budding star, who rose from a world ranking of 152 in January 2019 all the way up to her current No. 6 following wins at Indian Wells, the Rogers Cup and the U.S. Open last year. The latter two memorably came against Serena Williams, who retired from the first before falling to the Canadian in three sets in the second.

Now, nearly one year after her major victory, it’s unclear when we’ll see Andreescu play next. Read more about Andreescu’s decision here.

The CPL is coming to P.E.I.

When Forge FC and Cavalry FC do battle tonight, it’ll be the first Canadian Premier League match since the teams squared off in the championship last November, which Forge won 1-0.

Now, the league returns with a new team and a new format. Here’s everything you need to know:

Atletico Ottawa is set to become the eighth CPL franchise. It joins Pacific FC (Vancouver Island, B.C), FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC (Calgary), Valour FC (Winnipeg), Forge FC (Hamilton, Ont.), York9 FC (York Region, Ont.) and HFX Wanderers FC (Halifax) for the second season of the upstart Canadian soccer league.

The season will be played from a bubble in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Appropriately dubbed ‘The Island Games,’ CPL players and staff underwent mandatory 14-day self-isolation before their arrival, and are now separated from the public in a hotel where regular COVID-19 testing takes place. On Tuesday, the league reported no cases among 276 people tested.

One long tournament will determine the season’s champion. Beginning with tonight’s championship rematch, every team will play each other once in a tightly scheduled round robin that goes until Sept. 6. The top four teams then advance to a second stage, where each club once again takes on the other three. The best two teams from there meet in a one-game championship, where the winner takes home the title and earns a berth in the 2021 CONCACAF league.

Forge is a success story, and may still be the team to beat. One part of the Hamilton club’s success is obvious: it won the championship. The other showed how the CPL is supposed to run: league MVP and top scorer Tristan Borges, a 21-year-old from Toronto, parlayed his season into a deal with a first-division Belgian club. The CPL mandates that each team must accrue 250 minutes played by under-21 Canadians this season, as part of its effort to showcase Canadian talent, though in a regular year that number would be 1,000 minutes. Forge, meanwhile, mostly kept the rest of its roster intact while replacing Borges with young Belgian forward Paolo Sabak, one of the league’s top off-season imports.

Cavalry is probably the co-favourite. The Calgary side earned the top spot in both the spring and fall campaigns last year, finishing a combined six points ahead of Forge before falling in the final. It also won its first seven games โ€” the same number of first-round games it’ll play in P.E.I. Like Forge, Cavalry lost its leading scorer from last year, but boasts a pressing attack which could be difficult for opponents to keep up with coming off of zero pre-season games.

You can catch all the Saturday action on every CBC platform. Tune in to CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app beginning at 1 p.m. ET each of the next four Saturdays for a CPL doubleheader. This weekend, Ottawa debuts against York9 in the opening match before a cross-coast matchup pits the Wanderers against Pacific FC at 3:30 p.m. ET. Click here for the full CBC schedule.

For more CPL stuff, check out this video breakdown of the league’s return by CBC Sports’ Jacqueline Doorey (below) and read commissioner David Clanachan’s thoughts on how the bubble came together here.

WATCH | Canadian Premier League to resume play in P.E.I.:

The Canadian Premier League is kicking off The Island Games this week, here’s how it’s happening. 2:47

Quickly…

Eugenie Bouchard was victorious once again. In her first tournament since a wrist injury in January, the Westmount, Que., native rallied for her second straight victory, a 7-6 (2), 6-7 (2), 6-2 win over world No. 72 Tamara Zidansek at the Prague Open. Bouchard, ranked 330th, faces her tallest task in the quarters against the 23rd-ranked Elise Mertens. Before her injury and the ensuing COVID-19 shutdown, Bouchard had experienced an uneven start to her season. She began strong with a third-round appearance at the ASB Classic that included a win over No. 47 Caroline Garcia, but faded over her next three tournaments, falling twice in qualifying and once in the first round. Watch highlights from Bouchard’s win here.

At the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., Serena Williams rallied from down 4-2 in the final set to beat sister Venus in the second round. Serena now holds a 19-13 all-time record against her older sibling. 17-year-old Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez plays her second-round match against wild card Shelby Rogers tonight, where the winner will earn a date with Serena in the quarter-finals.

Canadiens head coach Claude Julien was hospitalized with chest pains. Montreal announced Thursday that the 60-year-old was rushed to hospital following the team’s 2-1 Game 1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Assistant Kirk Muller will take over behind the bench until Julien is recovered, which GM Marc Bergevin said he doesn’t anticipate before the end of the series. Read more about the situation here.

The Blue Jays probably shouldn’t have lost last night. Typically, when a team explodes for seven home runs and 18 hits, it doesn’t lose. In fact, it’d never happened in MLB history before last night, when Toronto pulled it off, falling 14-11 to a Miami Marlins team still missing players from its coronavirus outbreak and yet to play at home because of it. Eddy Alvarez, the former Olympic silver medallist speed skater, scored the winning run for Miami in the 10th inning. Before that, the Jays nearly earned a miraculous win of their own after overcoming 8-0 and 11-4 deficits just to force extras. Shortstop Bo Bichette went 5-for-5 including a home run and two steals in a Herculean individual effort, but it wasn’t enough. Read more about the Jays’ interesting loss here.

MLS players were booed for kneeling during the anthem. The regular season picked back up in Dallas last night, where up to 5,000 fans were allowed to attend the game against expansion Nashville SC. Both teams missed the MLS is Back Tournament after outbreaks, but followed suit of every other team when they kneeled to protest racial injustice ahead of the game. Still, no one else did it in front of a crowd, and the Texas audience wasn’t pleased. Dallas defender Reggie Cannon, who is Black, said he was disgusted by the response. Read more about the MLS re-opener here.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., hit one of the Jays’ seven home runs last night, but it still wasn’t enough. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/The Associated Press)

And finally…

What started as a fiery day in the NHL ended with a touching game-winner.

There were good reasons for Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour to be cranky on Wednesday. For one, his team’s game the previous night had been postponed to early that morning due to the 5-OT tilt that came before it. For another, the Hurricanes then fell in a double-OT game of their own to fall behind in their series against the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins’ second goal was a questionable one, with a seeming hand pass leading directly to Charlie Coyle scoring. Carolina challenged, but it was ruled that goalie Petr Mrazek had control of the puck under his glove before it reached Coyle. In that case, said the Hurricanes, the whistle should’ve been blown. No matter: it was ruled a goal. Brind’Amour sought out reporters after the game to vent, calling the play a “crime scene” and the league “a joke on these things.” He was fined $25,000 for the comments. Read more about the Hurricanes’ 4-3 loss here.

Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs had their season-ending availability, in which Auston Matthews called their Game 5 loss “frustrating and embarrassing,” while GM Kyle Dubas called criticism of Mitch Marner’s playoff performance “among the most idiotic things that I see done here.” The Toronto Maple Leafs: not a happy bunch. Read more of what the Leafs had to say here.

The most surprising NHL result Wednesday came when the Vancouver Canucks beat the reigning champion St. Louis Blues in dominant 5-2 fashion. Forward Troy Stecher potted the winner, after which he pointed to the sky in a tribute to his dad, who passed away on Father’s Day from complications with Diabetes. Elsewhere, the Canadiens lost 2-1 to the Flyers despite this desperate stick save by Carey Price, the Islanders doubled up on the Capitals and the Avalanche blanked the Coyotes.

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