Two College Soccer Rules that Should be Adopted by the Pros

The Clock is the Clock

The running clock in professional soccer is a strange aberration. Where most other sports share the game-time with their players and fans, in soccer, both are left to guess when a match really ends. In the collegiate game, the game clock shows the actual time and counts down to zero. College officials can and do stop the field clock for nine specific situations.

The unique college clock-stopping situations include a television timeout, a player instructed to leave the field for an equipment violation, and various situations that deal with the last five minutes of the game. The referee has the power to stop the clock and suspend the game to direct administrators or game management personnel to “remove whistles, air horns, electronic amplifiers and any other restricted items that are not permitted from the spectators’ areas.” The more obvious stopping of the clock includes: assessing a player’s injury, when a goal is scored, when a penalty kick is awarded, and a player is carded.

When a referee issues a disciplinary caution, a yellow or red card or player ejection, the clock is stopped.

Tired of watching teams in the lead stall during substitutions? College Rule 3.7.2 instructs referees “During the final five minutes of the second period the referee will stop the clock and beckon the substitute (of the leading team) onto the field.” This stops the stalling and time-wasting as players exit the field at a glacial pace to run out the clock.

The Best Players Play

NCAA soccer has an unlimited substitution rule with a few restrictions. Teams can substitute as much as they want but there is no reentry for a player in the first half, one re-entry in the second half and no re-entry if there is an overtime (NCAA Tournament only). No more watching exhausted players finish out a game with no gas in the tank.

Most professional leagues allow five substitutions but no reentry. As a result, the best players are often not on the field at the end of a tight game when they are needed the most.

What we don’t like…

No More OT in the NCAA season

Unlike the pros who play extra time, during the NCAA regular season games that are tied will end at 90 minutes end as a tie. No more regular-season golden goals in OT – one of the most exciting plays in soccer. Who likes a tie? Just ask DU women’s soccer which has accumulated four ties in their first four matches this season.

Even in NCAA post-season play, a full two ten-minute periods must be played. If a team scores, they still must complete the full 20 minutes. So, the excitement of a single game-ending Golden Goal is washed away in both the regular season and post-season. If the teams are still tied after the two ten-minute overtimes in an NCAA Tournament match, goal kicks will decide a game-winner.

Bonus suggestions for the pros and collegiate soccer:

  • Sure, this idea is a bit radical but Americans don’t appreciate nil-nil soccer games. The current soccer goal is 8′ high and 24′ wide. Adding one foot of width might let a few more of the shots that ‘hit the post’ find the back of the net.
  • Diving, faking, or exaggerating fouls and/or injuries should send players to the penalty box for 5-10 minutes. While college has much less of this than their professional counterparts, a short-handed penalty to offending players, like hockey, would limit much of the nonsense.

What do you think about these rule changes?

DU women’s soccer faces at Pioneer Field at 7:00 pm MT against Colgate and travels to Oregon for a match Sunday. Denver men’s soccer finishes up their homestand with a pair of matches. Friday, the men face UC San Diego at 7:00 pm MT and Sunday at 7:00 pm MT against Central Arkansas.

Photo: Courtesy of Preston North end.

2 thoughts on “Two College Soccer Rules that Should be Adopted by the Pros”

  1. Maybe the dumbest sports article you’ve done (there are plenty of dumb non-sports ones)

    Let’s make ‘American’ (US) soccer different from rest of world – brilliant, that will help us catch up

    You did ask 😀

  2. I live in Ecuador, so … futbol is the only game in town for me to see live. I’m two blocks from the stadium for our pro team, was at the game last Sunday.

    Yes, the clock thing needs to change. Ecuadorian fans hate that “secret” clock as much as you do. I can’t agree with free swapping players in and out. It adds a ton of strategy to the game. In Baseball you can’t take a pitcher out then add him back in, why should futbol be any different? And “embelishment” or diving is also equally hated in South America. My friend’s son is in a pro development program and she told me he is being taught to take a dive to draw a penalty. She hates that. Hockey has a penalty for that, and I agree futbol would be better with that rule. I think a 2 minute penalty would be plenty to discourage that. And I can’t agree with changing the size of the goal, is what it is. Want to score more? Be a better player.


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