- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On September 5, 2012
- 3 Comments
Oh boy. This could be the start of something or at least some start of mass craziness today on Twitter.
The North American Soccer League or NASL has announced that in 2013 they will go to a split-season format.
Beginning in 2013, the NASL’s 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 Soccer Bowl trophy as the NASL’s 2013 champions.
Split season. Soccer Bowl. Oh my.
The first, or spring, championship will kick off in late March or early April and will culminate on Thursday, July 4. The league will then break for the July transfer window before kicking back up again in late July or early August and run through November 2.
The break will occur during the international transfer window that is open throughout much of Europe, Latin America and North America.
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 interesting part will be is if a club ends up having the best record in the combined two seasons but fails to reach the playoffs. That could be very interesting but a gamble I’m sure the NASL was willing to take. Same will be if the same team wins both seasons – then what happens?
Let’s also point out the fact that the break will likely come during a time when NASL clubs are pushing for a USOC title. You have to wonder if this break will cause any issues in getting NASL clubs further along in the USOC.
Man, this is some interesting news though. I know a ton of fans would love to see this Apertura and Clausura style set up in MLS.
I for one am not so sure it is the perfect set up for MLS though. I get why folks love the idea of it – avoid a month in the summer and open up the league to a little easier format for the FIFA transfer windows. I get it. The thing is what makes this work in other counties is not what will likely make this work for MLS.
I think the NASL can get away with this format for a few reasons. For starters, they are smaller and a little more concentrated in the Southeast right now. Breaking for a few weeks in July makes total sense for their stand point – but so does some better scheduling too.
After that they are a growing league that will be welcoming in the New York Cosmos back to the fold next year. They’re also looking to expand fairly rapidly over the next few years according to some folks with more knowledge of this league.
The lack of playoffs for this set up is really intriguing to me though. For many years I often said MLS included too many clubs in the playoffs – making the regular season less valuable. I don’t believe that as much now that the league is a team away from being at 20 clubs.
In the end this switch will bring some extra eyes to this small second division. MLS will certainly keep a steady eye on this league for the next couple of years to see if this switch is worth doing as well. My gut tells me it won’t happen anytime soon though for MLS but if some good degree of success can come of it for the NASL, you have to think the pressure will be put on the MLS front office to explore a switch.