By FRANCO PANIZO
NASL will be adding more teams to its postseason format this year.
NASL announced on Thursday that four teams will reach the postseason in 2014, twice as many as in 2013. The four clubs will consist of the Spring and Fall Season champions and the two teams with the next best combined records from the two seasons.
The postseason will commence with a semifinals round, and the two teams to advance from there will compete to play in the title game called “The Championship,” which will determine who lifts the Soccer Bowl trophy.
“The long-term plan is to keep it at four clubs,” said NASL commissioner Bill Peterson, whose league plans to expand to 18 teams in the not too distant future. “You have a Spring champion, a Fall champion. The conversation starts with, ‘What about the best overall record?’ That makes some sense, but you can’t just let one in so we let those two in and the vision and the plan is to never expand that beyond that format.
“We really do believe with the Spring and Fall season, you don’t need to admit half of your league into the playoffs. That just takes away from the importance of the regular season and allows too much mediocrity in your championship game or the risk of mediocrity in your championship games.”
Both the semifinals and final will be one match and not two legs. The semifinals will be played the weekend of Nov. 8, and the championship match will be the following weekend.
“When we look at where we’re going and what we want to be, one of the components of that final plan is the postseason tournament,” said Peterson. “We maintain the importance of the spring and fall. Spring champion and Fall champion are automatically included and will host a home match in the semifinals and then we allow two challenges to enter into that competition.
“This was something that we see long term as a great way to sort of decide the champion and who wins the Soccer Bowl and who represents us as NASL league champion.”
Last season, the New York Cosmos defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks, 1-0, in the Soccer Bowl. Marcos Senna scored the winner in that match.