MLS has announced new tiebreaker rules that will affect the current season and will apply for the 2012 playoffs. Although the league has explained that the rules were originally approved in April, there was a four month delay before the official announcement. The changes could have an impact on the Chicago Fire and the rest of the teams in Major League Soccer if a tiebreaker needs to be determined.
The New Tiebreaker Rules for MLS
The new tiebreaker rules will apply for the 2012 playoffs. MLS has pointed out that the changes have been created to "encourage attacking play." The league has also mentioned that the current unbalanced season with 19 teams played a part in the decision. Although the announcement has been made in the middle of the season, Major League Soccer has admitted that the rules were actually approved in April. It is not clear if the teams were aware of the coming changes before the official announcement.
The new rules consist of a list of eight sequential ways to determine a tiebreaker if teams have the same number of total points. MLS can use the total goals, goal differential, disciplinary points, road goals, road goal differential, home goals, home goal differential or coin toss. The coin toss can be replaced with the drawing of lots in cases that require a tiebreaker for more than two teams.
The Biggest Problem with the New Rules
Although the delayed announcement of rules that will affect the current season is a problem, it is not the biggest issue with the changes. The main problem is the reliance on disciplinary points to determine a tiebreaker. Despite promises from MLS to educate and train referees, calls have not improved tremendously this season.
Disciplinary action needs to be standardized if Major League Soccer plans on using the team with the fewest number of disciplinary points to determine a tiebreaker. Instead, 2012 has resembled previous seasons with inconsistent calls and delayed action. MLS keeps a running total of the disciplinary points for the season, and the Chicago Fire have earned 322 points at this point. The Montreal Impact have the highest number of points with 422 compared to teams in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.
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Lana follows MLS, UEFA and FIFA. She has been a faithful fan of the Chicago Fire since 1998. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.