The NASL altered their playoff format for this season, expanding the postseason field from two to four clubs. The spring and fall champions will now host a semifinal against the two non-champion sides with the highest combined points total, with the winners of those semifinals meeting in a final hosted by the highest remaining seed.
There has been some question as to whether the field could continue to expand as the league grows to 18 teams, but as of today, it doesn't sound like that is the plan:
Peterson: NASL has "moved out of start-up phase, moved into growth stage."— Steven Sandor (@the11ca) April 8, 2014
NASL will not change playoff format when league grows to 18 teams. #NASLconferencecall— Steven Sandor (@the11ca) April 8, 2014
As far as I'm concerned, this is good news. One of the things I dislike most about MLS is the fact that just about everyone qualifies for the playoffs. The regular season loses some of its luster with so many clubs participating in postseason play, and I hate that so many clearly flawed clubs can go on a three-week hot streak and become league champions.
What this doesn't rule out is an eventual switch to the global calendar, with the semifinals being held immediately after the spring season concludes. Honestly, I believe we'll see the league push for that change before it hits 18 clubs, but that's a topic for another day.