Most professional sports leagues tend to make their rules changes all at once, but Major League Soccer has always been an exception to that. Today, they announced another rule change: Teams will get a fourth substitution during the playoffs that can only be used during extra time.
Now, this sort of rule is an interesting one, and it’s hardly an MLS exclusive. FIFA has talked about doing it, it’s been instituted in the FA Cup, and that rule is currently undergoing an IFAB trial. IFAB, the International Football Association Board, is the body responsible for the Laws of the Game.
It’s as part of that that MLS is implementing this change, which lends us a better vision of how MLS undergoes its rule changes. When we’re talking about the rules of competition, we’re not far abreast of things. In fact, we’re probably on the leading edge of a few of these concepts, and that’s a bit exciting.
How will this affect the game? It seems fairly simple. When RSL makes the playoffs this year (ahem) and we need to make a substitution in extra time, we’ll be able to. Now, how teams play this will be particularly interesting. Will teams go the switch-goalkeepers route and reserve a fresh ‘keeper for penalties? Will they, instead, look toward game-changing players? Is it merely something most teams will use when needing changes for injury and fatigue?