Pro Soccer’s greatest obstacle in the busy American sports calendar is figuring out how not to get lost in the shuffle. With the other pro team sports so entrenched in the American sports fan’s consciousness, pro Soccer, even in the height of its season, receives little or no time being in the mainstream spotlight. Soccer must expand its schedule in order to gain a bigger presence with American sports fans. A greater amount of games will maintain a higher profile for Soccer and keep the busy sports fan entertained with more Soccer highlights.
The best way to give fans more matches in a season is to allow for unlimited substitutions throughout each match, including being able to re-enter a game as many times as needed. By providing for this caveat to the ‘beautiful game’, coaches will be able to manage the time each player spends on the field and project ahead to play a fuller schedule of games.
Coaches will have to use their players not just according to who should rest, but also for strategy purposes. Coaches will substitute to counter the efforts of their opponent.
A typical roster consists of 22-25 players. By allowing for substitutions, more players will get playing time and there will be fewer injuries due to players who end up staying on the field too long and over-extending themselves. As it is now with only 3 substitutions per game, players are forced to play till their bodies are spent and playing another game 2 days later becomes a more difficult chore to bear.
Substituting players introduces another concept, time-outs. There should be five 90-second timeouts per half that will allow for the flow of substitutes. Also, at the end of a half or before or after overtime are times for substitutions to be made.
There are 2 other exceptions for substitutions: Injuries and Red Cards. A player that is injured on the field during game action and receives care on the field must be substituted for immediately. A player that is injured and leaves the game is not allowed to reenter the game until the end of the half or the end of an overtime. Red cards are addressed in Americanizing Soccer for the U.S. Sports Fan pt. 3.
The idea behind substitutions is to keep players as fresh as possible in order to provide for more matches. This puts pro Soccer on the sports radar more frequently, which leads to additional time on center stage in the U.S. sports world, where it belongs.