NASL recently announced a new playoff structure. Honestly, it’s one of the best playoff’s in soccer. MLS’s is too long and drawn out, and most other leagues just declare the team at the top of the table the champion.
The playoff plan is that the winner of the spring and fall seasons will play the two teams with the best record who did not win a season. Then the winners will play each other in the championship.
Last year, the spring season was incredibly exciting, turning June into a tension filled set of games. Sure, Minnesota didn’t end up doing so well in the season, but it wasn’t until the last two weeks that they were out of it.
Of course. the Fall season was pretty terrible, with the Cosmos walking away with the season and the rest of the league falling far behind.
This new playoff structure answers almost all the problems. Makes the early games important? Check. Keeps the playoffs short? Check. Rewards teams that play well throughout the season? Check. Keeps the playoffs reserved for the best teams, rather than half (or more) of the league? Check.
The only problem is the spring team losing motivation. There isn’t really a good solution to this. The best I’ve heard is that the Spring champion can earn a bye if they will the Fall season (effectively removing a team from the playoffs).
We’ll see how it works out this season.