Four clubs, three matches, two finalists, one Champion…
The North American Soccer League will feature a new-look postseason format as four clubs qualify to play in ‘The Championship’ that will decide which of the league’s clubs lifts the NASL Soccer Bowl trophy.
As a component of long term competition planning, the NASL Spring Season and Fall Season champions will be joined in the semi finals of The Championship by the two clubs with the next best overall records from both seasons combined. The semi final winners will compete in The Championship final.
“The NASL is continuing to grow and mature and part of that process is to listen to our fans,” said San Antonio Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman. “The owners have done that and made the season more competitive by embracing The Championship. Last year the Scorpions might have benefited from this format, which ensures more clubs stay in the running to become champions deeper into the season.”
New York Cosmos owner Seamus O’Brien, whose club won the 2013 NASL Soccer Bowl, said: “This is a natural evolution and an enhancement of the competitive nature of our league. The rewards for winning the Spring and Fall seasons are still there and The Championship adds another round of play that will excite our fans.”
The new format, which was approved by the NASL Board of Governors meeting this week in Jacksonville, will be introduced for the upcoming 2014 NASL season. The Championship semi finals will be played the weekend of November 8/9 and The Championship final on the following weekend of November 15/16.
“We have a vision for how we want to be structured when we reach 18 clubs,” said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson. “The Championship is an integral part of that vision and the fan feedback we received overwhelmingly supported the decision. The already fierce competition in NASL just got tougher.”
Atlanta Silverbacks Technical Director Eric Wynalda said of The Championship: “I am fully in favor of this championship format. It is going to ensure that teams continue to play at the highest level possible throughout the entire season, and I think it is the optimal way to crown a NASL champion.”
The Championship Semi Finals (home team listed first)
Seed #1 vs. Seed #4
Seed #2 vs. Seed #3
The Championship Final (home team listed first)
Highest remaining seed vs. other Semi Final winner
The Championship seeding:
• The NASL Spring Season and Fall Season champions will each host a semi final.
• The number one seed will be awarded to whichever of the Spring or Fall champions posts the better combined regular season record.
• The number three and number four seeds will be awarded to the next two clubs with the best overall records from both seasons combined.
• Clubs will retain their seeding throughout the postseason.
• The top-seeded semi final winner will host The Championship final.
• If the same club wins both seasons, the clubs with the second, third and fourth best overall records from both seasons combined will qualify for The Championship.