When MLS Next Pro launched, the league talked up the idea of being a sort of test-lab. The most notable of these tweaks was the elimination of the draw, which is an eternal quest in North American soccer. Thankfully, that rule hasn't been adopted outside of the Leagues Cup.
What has proven sticker is a set of rules designed to speed up play that have now been brought forward from Next Pro into MLS. As someone who has watched Defiance from the S2 at Starfire era to the present day, the changes are notable.
You will see less time-wasting, because teams with players who extend their injury recovery will be forced to play down a man for two minutes.
If a player with a suspected injury remains on the ground for more than 15 seconds, the referee will stop play and wave the medical crew onto the field to evaluate the player. When safe, the player will be removed from the field and remain off the field for a minimum of two minutes for further assessment and treatment.
There are exceptions for serious injury and during cards.
While I can't recall a goal scored by Defiance when they were up a man for those two minutes, I can recall a surge of energy as the squad tried to take advantage of this short-term situation.
Not only does that mean a decrease in time when fans are staring at players acting, it means that there is a small increase in more dramatic action on the field. It's a much better experience.
Another classic time-wasting technique will be nearly eliminated as well. Players who take too long to leave the pitch during a substitution will force their team to play down a man as well.
Failure to exit from any point on the field within the 10 seconds will cause the incoming player to wait for a 60-second holding period, before entering the game at the next stoppage.
And for you, the fan in the stadium, you'll stop needing to guess how much stoppage time is available – that will be on the clocks in the stadium.
Not only will play be faster and more dramatic, you'll have a better idea of how long the game lasts without glancing at your phone constantly.
The speed-of-play issues are all tested. They worked. Matches were a little bit faster, a little bit more dramatic. It's good to see these rules brought forward, now maybe MLS Next Pro can get rid of the near-constant shootouts.
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Catching up on Sounder at Heart
It’s been a busy couple days, so you may have missed a few updates on your favorite teams:
- Alex Roldan signs extension through 2026
- Sounders select Jon Bell in the Re-entry Draft
- Sound Bite(s), Episode 18: Craig's teasing us! (subscriber only)
- OL Reign re-sign Athens, Brown, and Ivory
- Barnes, Fishlock headline list of OL Reign players available in NWSL expansion draft
- What we learned at Sounders' end-of-season press conference
- Filling depth through MLS free agency
- Realio’s Ratings: Seattle Sounders vs. 2023, #22-#19
- Josh Atencio, Jackson Ragen will likely get USMNT call-ups
- Thank you, Nico: Our Lodeiro tribute episode
- Sounders pay tribute to Nico Lodeiro
- Nicolás Lodeiro was everything we want a Sounders star to be
- Sounder at Heart gift guide
- Getting the most out of your SaH membership
Looking back at the week's news
MLS is changing the way it handles injuries; Kang continues to expand her holdings; NWSL monies keep increasing
Major League Soccer Board of Governors Approves New Sporting Initiatives Ahead of 2024 Season. Speed-of-play increases we previously saw in MLS Next Pro will now be the standard in MLS, plus there's now more allocation money available via certain sales. These changes are the result of the MLS Product Committee, which is no longer the big secret it has been.
Spirit, Lyon owner Kang buys London City Lionesses. Kang now owns teams in three nations, but has left Spirit without a coach and the Lyon-Reign project remains unresolved. Speaking of Lyon, John Textor's lost a lot of money because he loves soccer but doesn't understand ownership.
Set For 2024: Bay FC Creates Biggest Sponsorship Deal In NWSL History. You should expect to regularly see more stories about NWSL money being bigger than ever. With the next broadcast contract there are many companies that will want their brand in front of people.
KC Current open their NWSL-specific stadium next season. It's already sold out.
NWSL expansion draft: Best players for Bay FC and Utah Royals. The NWSL expansion draft is today. Expect to lose talent you like.
I Stood Up for our Rights. This is My Story | By Lucía García. "I have also learned that there are some things you cannot put a price on."
Sources: Bruce Arena reinstated by MLS Commissioner Don Garber. The only people who know what Bruce Arena did, which he apologized for, have approved him being a coach again.
U.S. U-17 goalkeeper Ferree is San Diego FC's first player. This signing is mostly symbolic, because when his contract is over he'll still be younger than basically every starting keeper.
Cheat sheet: What all 29 teams need in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft. You should expect the Sounders to draft talent that rarely cracks the gameday 20 if they make the senior roster.
Turkish soccer club president arrested for punching referee. Koca claims he just wanted to spit on the referee. The referee says his life was threatened.
Pacific Northwest Soccer
Spokane gets a schedule; Fishlock-King wedding; Alex Harris is
United Soccer League releases schedule for League One and Spokane Velocity FC. Spokane's new pro men's team will play from March to October almost entirely on Saturdays. USL League One added a midseason competition, that is expected to include all pro men's USL clubs in the future.
LGBTQ sports royalty attend Jess Fishlock and Tziarra King’s wedding. Look at all these amazing people having fun! Congratulations to these absolute gems of people.
Congratulations to Alex Harris of Vancouver, Washington. He's the best high school boys soccer player in the country.