With the NASL only consisting of eight teams this year, the playoff format was bound to be a little screwy. Six of those teams advanced to the post-season with the Carolina Railhawks and the Puerto Rico Islanders getting first-round byes. They will await the winners of the two one-leg playoffs.
SB Nation's Vancouver Whitecaps blog 86 Forever has a bit of a soft place in its heart for the NASL, being as the Whitecaps were playing with many of those teams as recently as last year. They also cover FC Edmonton, who is participating in these playoffs.
The North American Soccer League is still, week in and week out, more exciting than Major League Soccer, and in terms of competitiveness and skill this was one of the second division's best seasons. The playoffs ought to be just as good, with four close-matched teams tangling in a single do-or-die game. After the jump, a look at the first round of the NASL playoffs.