MIAMI: The North American Soccer League (NASL) has announced a change in its regular season competitive format for the 2013 season. 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.

The first, or spring, championship will kick off in late March or early April and will culminate on Thursday, July 4. NASL member teams will then have roughly one month before the start of the second championship and each team is free during that period to prepare for that competition as they see fit, including touring or scheduling exhibition matches. The break will occur during the international transfer window that is open throughout much of Europe, Latin America and North America.

The second, or fall, championship will commence late July or early August and run through November 2. Following the conclusion of the fall championship the winner of the spring championship will host the winner of the fall championship (or, in the event the same team wins both competitions, the team with the second-best record for the full year’s games) to determine which team will be inscribed on the Soccer Bowl as the NASL’s annual champion.

Each individual championship will consist of a full round-robin schedule in which each NASL team plays every other NASL team once at home and once on the road. 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 new competitive format for the 2013 season was adopted by a unanimous vote of the NASL’s Board of Governors on August 24, 2012. It had been under discussion since the inception of the league.

“Our Scheduling Sub-Committee arrived at this recommendation after an exhaustive review of a number of alternatives,” said NASL Commissioner David Downs, “and the new format takes into consideration a variety of factors including fan and player comfort in our many warm-weather cities.” “But the bottom line,” Downs added, “is that we believe this new competitive format will bring more excitement and meaning to each of our regular season matches for all of our teams throughout the year.”

The 2012 NASL Regular Season will end on September 23 with the 2012 NASL Playoffs set to start the following weekend, September 29-30.