With the NASL growing in 2013 with the addition of the historic New York Cosmos and then again in 2014 with the Ottawa Fury, it seems right for the NASL to do something different with the way their schedule is played.
With six of the eight teams currently making the playoffs, it almost makes the NASL regular season mean nothing. But, earlier today the NASL announced some exciting news regarding the 2013 season.
Beginning in 2013, the regular season will feature two separate and distinct round-robin competitions with the winners of each competition meeting in a single game on the weekend following the conclusion of the second competition.
The winner of that match will claim the historic Soccer Bowl trophy as the NASL champions.
“Our Scheduling Sub-Committee arrived at this recommendation after an exhaustive review of a number of alternatives,” said NASL Commissioner David Downs, “and the new format takes into consideration a variety of factors including fan and player comfort in our many warm-weather cities.” “But the bottom line,” Downs added, “is that we believe this new competitive format will bring more excitement and meaning to each of our regular season matches for all of our teams throughout the year.”
Each individual championship will consist of a full round-robin schedule in which each NASL team plays every other NASL team once at home and once on the road. Other than the tie-breaking procedure to determine the opponent for the spring championship winner in the Soccer Bowl, there will be no carryover of points from the spring to the fall competition.
The spring championship starts in late March or early April and will conclude on Thursday, July 4.
Teams will then have about one month before the start of the second championship and each team is free during that period to prepare for that competition as they see fit, kind of like an “off-season” of sorts.
The break will occur during the international transfer window that is open throughout much of Europe, Latin America and North America.
The fall championship will start July or early August and run through November 2.
After the conclusion of the fall championship, the winner of the spring championship will host the winner of the fall championship for the NASL Soccer Bowl.
If the winner of the spring championship is the same as the fall championship, the team with the second-best record in the full year’s game will play the champion.
I for one am very excited for this new format. I’ve been reading on some of the reaction out there, there’s some positive, but there’s also some very negative.
While talking to some people, they voiced two big concerns: 1) the lack of a two-leg championship final and 2) allowing the Spring champion to host the Soccer Bowl instead of the team with the best overall record over the entire year.
They are understandable concerns but they are simple to answer.
Holding a one-game final would be an easier and, more practical package for potential television partners as opposed to trying to sell them on two games a week apart.
Furthermore, there is a huge problem with prolonged playoffs in the lower divisions of U.S. soccer due to travel costs. Travels that must be arranged and purchased on short notice are usually tickets that are at their highest. Cutting the postseason to a single game eliminates those short-term costs for all but one team (more on this blow).
In regards to the winner of the spring tournament hosting the Soccer Bowl that’s simple, knowing the site of the championship final months in advance allows media partners, league officials, referees and even fans to plan for that location.
Let’s say the winner of the Fall Championship clinches their title several weeks before the end of that , they can begin to arrange travel plans then as opposed to potentially having to wait until the week before the final to determine the team with the best overall record and, thus, the host site.
Personally, I think David Downs and the rest of the NASL have done a good job in trying to make the NASL an exciting league to watch.
Like with every announcement, no one is ever fully satisfied but include me in the group of people that agrees to this new format.
What do you think of the new format?