Last year, the North American Soccer League split the table into spring and autumn tables. The winners would face each other in the Soccer Bowl. If the same club won both events, then the second club would be the next best club over a combined table.
"I believe that this four-team postseason format shows the vision and commitment that the NASL has as our League continues to evolve and grow," said Rod Proudfoot of FC Edmonton. "This decision should keep FC Edmonton fans even more engaged throughout the season."
This year, the NASL has added two more clubs to the competition. If they are different clubs, the spring and autumn champions will still compete, but they will be faced by the next two best clubs over a combined table. If the same club wins both, then it will be the three best of a combined table.
The key point here is that the NASL is inching back towards a combined table. At the time, splitting them made sense. They knew that 2014 was a World Cup year, and there are climate issues to deal with in cities like Edmonton, Indianapolis, Ottawa, and New York.
"We have a vision for how we want to be structured when we reach 18 clubs," said 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."
Had they made the move last year, we would have seen Atlanta Silverbacks FC host the Tampa Bay Rowdies in one semi-final, while the New York Cosmos would have hosted Carolina RailHawks FC in the other. The winners would advance after a single elimination match. The final will still be hosted by the spring champions.
"I welcome the change," said FC Edmonton manager Colin Miller. "It’s a good move by the League and I think the team and the crowds will be entertained that little bit longer. We’ve made a club goal of being there in the end, and we will do all that we can to get into the Championship."