MLS unveils measures to speed up play in 2024

Major League Soccer’s heads on Thursday approved the introduction of new rules for injuries and substitutions next season designed to speed up play.

The measures were given the green light at a meeting of the league’s board of governors on Thursday.

From next season, a new off-field treatment rule will be adopted across the US professional soccer league.

Under the protocol, referees will halt play when a player with a suspected injury remains down on the field of play for 15 seconds or more.

The player in question will then be removed from the field for further treatment on the sidelines, for a period of at least two minutes before being permitted to return.

The two-minute rule will not be enforced for injuries that are caused by a yellow or red card offense. Exceptions are also granted for goalkeeper injuries and head injuries.

The injury protocol has been trialed successfully in MLS Next Pro, the developmental league affiliated with MLS. Since the system was introduced, stoppages have plummeted from six per match to 1.22, according to ESPN.

Another new measure approved Thursday will force substituted players to exit the field of play within 10 seconds.

Failure to leave within the 10-second limit will force the substitute coming onto the pitch to wait 60 seconds, meaning the team making the change will be temporarily down a player.

The only exceptions to the rule will involve substitutions forced by injury, or goalkeeper substitutions.

Other measures adopted on Thursday include in-stadium Video Assistant Referee announcements.

The rule, which must be approved by FIFA’s lawmaking arm, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) will see VAR decisions announced by the referee to fans in the stadium.


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