With the 2014 season less than 24 hours from kickoff, Major League soccer has released important information regarding rules and regulations.
First and foremost, tiebreaker rules in a number of scenarios have changed slightly.
While each conference’s top 5 teams still qualify for the playoffs (no surprise), tiebreakers for the final spot often come into play. The league has reversed the 2nd and 3rd tiebreakers.
The lead tiebreaker for a playoff spot remains most wins in the season, but the #2 tiebreaker is now goal differential, swapping places with the now-#3 tiebreaker goals scored.
MLS made a change in the 2-leg playoff series as well. Seeding of teams will still occur, but if aggregate goals scored is tied following a pair of 90-minute legs at each team’s home field, the MLS playoffs will now follow the away goals tiebreaker.
This, according to the rules release, is to “be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice.”
Many have taken shots at the use of away goals, saying it will diminish the importance of seeding due to a reduction of home field advantage. There will be no choice given to the higher seed concerning which leg would come first.
Finally, there was the announcement of this year’s salary limits. The salary cap will balloon to $3.1 million, up from $2.9 million and essentially consistent with the required 5% increase.
In addition, Designated Player contracts will now count $387,500 towards the salary cap, up from $350,000. A Designated Player signed in the middle of the season will count $193,750 towards the salary cap.