NASL Rule Changes Move Fledgling League Toward FIFA Standards

After years of allowing teams to use as many as five substitutes at the Division 2 level, NASL will only allow a maximum of three substitutes, according to IMSoccer News. The move is designed to fall in line with the FIFA standard that leagues such as MLS use. To accommodate this change, the first-year league has scheduled most of their games on Saturday nights and largely done away with midweek games that had previously made more limited substitutions difficult.

The league has also instituted a new travel policy that forces teams to take at least 17 players, a medical trainer and two coaches. In the past, some second division teams would regularly travel with the minimum number of players and one coach to cut down on costs. 

Both of these moves are an attempt by the league to further bolster its case for earn permanent sanctioning. This past offseason, the league gained provisional sanctioning, had it stripped and was given it back, but for only one year. Since then, the league has made David Downs its commissioner. Downs had previously been the executive director of the U.S. World Cup bids for 2018 and '22. The USSF has never fully articulated its concerns publicly, but it has made statements that the country's second division needed to operate at a higher standard than in previous years. The NASL's inaugural season kicks off on Saturday.

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