This week, the United States Football Federation announced a change to its rules regarding club eligibility for its Major League Soccer teams.
The move comes after the USSF’s last season saw teams make the playoffs in just three of its 32 divisions, and it is one that could see teams miss out on the chance to compete in the top four leagues.
In fact, according to the USF’s latest standings, only the New York Red Bulls (who finished in the middle of the pack) and LA Galaxy (who qualified for the final two divisions) are currently ahead of the Red Bulls in the standings, and the Galaxy have been on a hot streak.
The USF announced the change on Thursday, saying it would allow the league to continue to have a high level of competition in its division.
This will allow the top two clubs in each division to continue their play-off push for the MLS Cup, which will be awarded to the top three teams in each of the two divisions.
In addition to making sure that teams that were in the bottom three teams would have a shot at making the playoffs, the new rules also allow teams that finished last season in the same division as the MLS team to be eligible for promotion to the first division if they qualify for the playoffs.
This means that a club that had to finish fourth or worse in its divisions last season could potentially be promoted to the second division and a higher level of play would be possible for that team.
“We feel that the league should be more aggressive about promotion and relegation and that the first-division teams should not be relegated from the top of the table in their divisions,” USF general manager Jeff Agoos told Al Jazeera.
“It’s a good idea for the league and we’re pleased to be able to take this step.”
USF had previously been in discussions with the MLS about adding a system similar to what is currently in place in North America.
The changes announced on Thursday will see clubs in the first and second divisions of the USMNT automatically get automatic promotion and automatically play in the MLS Playoffs, while teams in the third and fourth divisions will only be eligible to play in a single division.
The league has not yet announced a timetable for when it plans to implement the changes, but Agoos said that he believed the changes would happen within the next few months.
“If we’re going to have this kind of structure in place, we need to be ready for it,” Agoos explained.
“So we’re excited to get this going.”