Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
TAMPA, Fla. – USL President Jake Edwards revealed on Saturday the league will reduce the number of substitutions permitted in league contests for the 2017 season, with the international standard of three substitutions per game being instituted over the former allowance of five.
“We are changing that for next season,” Edwards told Cincinnati Soccer Talk. “That’s something that we’ve mandated and gone through that with our technical committees and competition committees, and that’s something we were looking at doing for the last few seasons, but next season, 2017 season, it’ll be the three-substitution rule.”
The USL’s five-substitution rule had been a carryover from the league’s history, when due to scheduling and travel teams could play two games in three nights, or even on back-to-back days. With the expansion of the league schedule and the length of the regular season, which will see teams play 32 games over a 30-week regular season next year, the league’s management decided the time had come to change the rule.
“The five-substitute rule for the USL is a legacy rule that goes back for many years when the league was a shorter season,” Edwards said. “Teams were therefore playing multiple games on a road trip, perhaps even back-to-back, and for all the right reasons the league has moved away from that and the structure has changed.”
The 2017 USL regular season is scheduled to kick off at the end of March, with expansion sides Ottawa Fury FC, Reno 1868 FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies set to join the USL for the new season.