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MLS announces 2014 roster, competition rules: Away goals in, tiebreakers change

Aaron Davidson

It's Friday evening at MLS headquarters in New York, so the only natural thing to do was to release the 2014 roster rules. The biggest change? Away goals in the playoffs now matter.

Away-goal rules have been implemented in MLS playoff conference semifinals and finals, which will be a popular move among some fans and terribly unpopular among others. Such is the divisive nature of the away-goals rule, which purports to do something or other, but it's hard to say what. The big takeaway: Think of goals scored by the away team as worth a small fraction (say, 1/100th of a goal) more than goals by the home team. When you take a score on aggregate, those fractions add up. Score more away goals than the opposition but still tie? Well, you go through.

Minimum salaries increase slightly, in line with the increases mandated in the collective bargaining agreement. The big takeaway: The CBA is up at the end of the year, so expect this to be a sticking point.

The standings tiebreakers have been slightly adjusted. Goals scored drops to the third metric, and goal differential moves up to the second metric. The same applies to road-goals-for and differential, as well as home-goals-for and differential. Wins remains the first measurement to be judged against, and disciplinary points is the fourth differentiator. The big takeaway: This brings us closer to common patterns across the world, but it actually wouldn't have made a difference in 2013.