The end of time wasting? MLS kick off revolutionary rule experiment

MLS Next Pro

We often find players making the most of an injury to run down the clock. Especially if their team is winning or at an advantage over the adversary.

Recently we saw Tammy Abraham, against Feyenoord in the UEFA Conference League final, go down holding his shin and appearing to be injured - but was caught winking at Jose Mourinho, to seemingly indicate that he was merely timewasting.

To eliminate these kinds of unsporting behaviour, Major League Soccer (MLS) has come up with a set of updated guidelines that will come into effect in the MLS Next Pro competition beginning this week regarding off-field treatment and red card suspension.

What is the off-field treatment rule in MLS Next Pro?

If a player stays on the ground with a suspected injury for more than 15 seconds, a medical crew will come on and assist him off the field.

However, once the player is off the field, he will remain suspended for three minutes. Only after the completion of the time period he might re-join the action.

The three-minute requirement has some specific exceptions, including potential head injury, cardiac issue or other serious medical events.

It is expected that due to this rule the propensity to waste time through injuries will decrease as his team has to play with a man down for a considerable period of time.

"We are looking forward to implementing the Off-field Treatment Rule, as we believe it will positively impact our game in multiple ways,” said Ali Curtis, senior vice president of competition and operations at MLS NEXT Pro.

"Not only will it allow our medical professionals to treat our athletes in a less pressurized, more controlled environment, but it will also address players or teams deliberately delaying the game in order to gain a competitive advantage."

What is the new red card rule in MLS Next Pro?

Meanwhile, if a player receives a red card during a match, that player will serve the resulting one-game suspension against the same team that he received the red card. The rule applies in the case of a red card or a second yellow card.

For example, if a Rochester New York FC player picks up a red against Inter Miami, he will miss the next match against the Herons, and not the next immediate fixture.

Will the rule changes be applied in MLS?

Currently, the two rule changes will be applicable only in MLS Next Pro, where 20 reserve sides of the MLS clubs ply their trade.  Both rules will be reassessed at the end of the season and a further course of action will be decided.

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