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Competition Rules and Regulations

2014 MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER RULES OF COMPETITION
 
CONFERENCES:
Teams will be aligned into two conferences as they were in 2013:
 
Eastern Conference                                                                          Western Conference
Chicago Fire                                                                                         Chivas USA
Columbus Crew                                                                                  Colorado Rapids
D.C. United                                                                                           FC Dallas
Houston Dynamo                                                                                LA Galaxy
Sporting Kansas City                                                                          Portland Timbers
Montreal Impact                                                                                   Real Salt Lake 
New England Revolution                                                                   San Jose Earthquakes
New York Red Bulls                                                                            Seattle Sounders FC
Philadelphia Union                                                                             Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Toronto FC
 
REGULAR SEASON: 
  • Each of the 19 MLS clubs will play 34 games, 17 at home and 17 away.
  • The nine Western Conference teams will face each West club three times (home teams reversed from 2013).
  • The 10 Eastern Conference teams will play seven (7) East teams three times each (home teams reversed from 2013) and two East teams twice each.
  • Eastern and Western Conference teams will play each other once in 2014, with the home team reversed from the 2013.
 
POINT SYSTEM: Teams will receive three points for a win, one point for a tie and zero points for a loss.
 
REFEREES: All referees in MLS are either USSF (United States Soccer Federation) or CSA (Canadian Soccer Association) National Referees.  Referees for all MLS games will be trained, assigned and evaluated by PRO (Professional Referee Organization).
 
GAME CLOCK: The official game time for all Major League Soccer games will be managed on the field by the referee. If necessary, the referee may also allot extra time (a.k.a. "stoppage time”) at the end of each period (first half, second half, and if applicable, first overtime period and second overtime period during playoff matches) to allow for injuries, time-wasting or other disturbances.
 
The stadium clock will display the time from 0:00 to 45:00 and from 45:00 to 90:00 (plus stoppage time where applicable in each half). For statistical purposes, the minutes for goals, substitutions, yellow cards, etc., will be listed from the first minute until the 90th minute. A goal scored at 15 minutes 10 seconds will be listed as having been scored in the 16th minute. Events occurring during stoppage time will follow the international norm by being demarcated with a "+" sign and the extra minutes. For example, a goal scored three minutes into first half stoppage time will be officially identified as happening at "48+".
 
GAME DAY ROSTERS: Each team can nominate 18 players for a game day roster. Teams are allowed three substitutions per game.
 
CAUTIONS AND SUSPENSIONS: A player will be suspended for one game upon receiving his fifth yellow card – regardless of the nature of the infraction that resulted in his being awarded a yellow card. A second suspension of one game would result after the awarding of an additional three cards, as would a third suspension after the awarding of card number eleven. When one yellow card away from being suspended for caution accumulation, if a player appears in three consecutive games without receiving a yellow card or disciplinary sanction, the player will have one yellow card expunged. A player may take advantage of the “Good Behavior” incentive only once throughout the season.
 
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: FORMAT
 
WHO QUALIFIES: Ten teams, the top five in points from each conference at the end of the regular season, qualify for the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs.
 
The fourth and fifth place teams in each conference will play a single knockout game, the winner of which will advance to the Conference Semifinals and face the first place team in the conference.
 
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 2nd 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 2nd leg of any two-legged playoff series.
 
MLS Cup will be a single championship match hosted by the finalist with the most regular season points. If the two finalists have the same number of regular season points, the tiebreakers for playoff qualification will be applied to determine the host team.
 
If the score is tied after 90 minutes of play, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by kicks from the penalty mark, if necessary.
 
TEAM-STANDINGS TIE-BREAKING PROCEDURES
The team awarded the highest position in the MLS standings will be the team with the greatest number of points (three points for a win, one point for a tie, zero points for a loss).  In the event that two teams finish the regular season with an equal number of points, the following system will be used to break the tie:
 
1.     Total number of wins
2.     Goal Differential (GD)
3.     Goals For (GF)
4.     Fewest Disciplinary Points
5.     Road Goals Differential
6.     Road Goal For
7.     Home Goals Differential
8.     Home Goal For
9.     Coin Toss (2 clubs) or Drawing of Lots (3 or more)
 
When two or more teams are tied in the standings on points, the above tiebreakers will be used until one team ranks ahead of the other(s).
 
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS:
  • 10 clubs will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs – the top five in points from each conference at the end of the regular season.
    • The 4th- and 5th- place teams will play a single knockout game, the winner of which will advance to the Conference Semifinals and face the 1st-place team in the conference.
    • The Conference Semifinals will be decided by a two-game, aggregate-goal format.
    • The Conference Championships will be decided by a two-game, aggregate-goal format.
    • MLS Cup will be hosted by the finalist that finished the regular season with the most points in the standings.