Major League Soccer to introduce away-goals rule for first time in 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs

There are few changes to this years Competition Rules and Regulations as released by Major League Soccer on Friday. Except for one big one:

Away goals count.

That's the biggest addition to the competition format, and the tiebreaker method that's used around the world for two-leg series – most notably in European and South American tournaments, as well as the CONCACAF Champions League – will become the norm once the MLS Cup playoffs resume in the fall.

Here's the exact ruling, as will apply in MLS to both the Conference Semifinals and Conference Championships:

"The four Conference Semifinals will be decided by two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg. If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, the away goals rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice. If the series remains tied, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. The away goals tiebreaker will not apply to overtime in the second leg of any two-legged playoff series.

"The two Conference Championships will be decided by a two-game aggregate series, with the lower seed hosting the first leg and the higher seed hosting the second leg. If the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes of play, the away goals rule will apply so as to be consistent with CONCACAF and FIFA practice. If the series remains tied, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks, if necessary. The away goals tiebreaker will not apply to overtime in the second leg of any two-legged playoff series."

On the Roster Rules and Regulations side, the league has also standardized the "Special Discovery Signing," in which the total acquisition costs for one player per team – including a transfer fee – can be amortized over the length of his contract. The Montreal Impact made use of this mechanism last month when they signed Uruguayan forward Santiago González without making him a Designated Player.

Other new rules include the formalization of intraleague loans for players 24 years old or younger and an adjustment to the stipulations of the Homegrown player signing mechanism:

"A club may sign a player to his first professional contract without subjecting him to the MLS SuperDraft if the player has trained for at least one year in the club’s youth development program and has trained 80 days with the academy during that year."

Click here to see the full Competition Rules & Regulations for the 2014 MLS season, and here for the Player Rules and Regulations.


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