Cosmos star Marcos Senna
PHOTO: TONY LEWIS
I’ve seen the debate on this site. You see entire message-board debates devoted to it.
Should a North American soccer league have playoffs? Or should the format more reflect the league-winner-take-all format that’s common across Europe?
Well, we have as close as a test case as we are going to get in North America. And that’s in the North American Soccer League, where the winner of the spring and fall seasons meet each other in the Soccer Bowl. It’s not quite single table, but there’s no post-season outside of a championship game.
In mid-September, the NASL looked to have a dream on its hands. The top seven teams in an eight-team league were all within three points of each other. The league could boast that every game had meaning, that every game would impact the Soccer Bowl race.
But things have changed radically since then.
Sure, for most of the league, parity is still the key word. As we head into the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, the gap between seventh place and second place is three points. Four teams are tied for second place, with 14 points each.
Alas, the New York Cosmos have been red-hot; and, in a league where draws are the norm, the Cosmos has been able to put together a series of wins and distance itself from the pack. The gap between first and those four second-place teams is at seven points.
Seven points, with four games left on each team’s schedule.
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