By Brian Maurer
Photo courtesy of CJ Hellner/TopBin90
The MLS Board of Governors met yesterday to discuss changes to the league heading into the 2024 season. According to MLSsoccer.com, there are no plans to increase the salary budget or number of designated player slots for 2024. Tom Bogert of The Athletic reported that there was a discussion on decoupling the U-22 Initiative slots from the DP slots but that did not change either. While many fans posted their frustrations at the lack of significant change to roster flexibility there were still enough other changes worth discussing.
MLS NEXT Pro's experimental role is going to impact MLS in 2024
Besides developing prospects, one of the other main goals of MLS NEXT Pro is to provide an environment where experimental rules can be researched and tested. Those rules, if successful, can then be applied to MLS. The first rollout of this process is going to occur for the 2024 season.
The MLS plans on instituting four new competition initiatives for the upcoming season. The Off-field Treatment Rule will force players off the field to receive treatment if they are down for more than 15 seconds. This rule is intended to reduce the incentive of time wasting.
Another rule to reduce time wasting that will be implemented this year is the Timed Substitution Rule. This rule will require substituted players to leave the field within 10 seconds of the substitution. If a player does not exit in the allotted time then their replacement will have to wait 60 seconds to entire the field of play. This rule had an extremely high success rate at reducing time-wasting during substitutions in MLS NEXT Pro.
Another gameplay change is that stoppage time will also be viewable from video boards. Finally, referees will be asked to announce VAR decisions. These two additional rules are being applied to try and help fans' awareness of what is happening late in games when each moment has far more substantial consequences.
Roster rule change
The main roster rule change is that a portion of DP transfer fees can be turned into General Allocation Money (GAM). This rule change could impact the way that Charlotte FC approaches its winter moves. This is because there is an additional incentive to sell DPs as these sales would open up international slots, and DP slots, and they would receive allocation money that could help upgrade other positions on the roster.
Longer-term, this rule change could incentivize teams to continue to buy younger DPs who are developing or entering their prime. This is because they are the players more likely to be resold for a profit and thus more likely to earn the club additional spending flexibility with allocation money.