Saturday, March 7, 2015

Would 'Buzzer-Beaters' Work for MLS?

I contend that yes they would.

Listen for the buzzer in this high-school game in Texas at the very last second as ball goes in.  This goal got coverage all over the internet, including Yahoo! and USA Today/sports.

MLS could use the extra coverage that 'buzzer-beaters' bring.  More publicity wouldn't hurt.  The 'buzzer-beater' is even more exciting than an extra-time goal because the game is officially over. Take a look at the team streaming onto the field.

Even though there are plenty of extra-time goals in the sport and they are fun to see, I believe there would be more end of games buzzer-beaters with a countdown clock (rule #1).

It's an American ideal and players want to be heroes.  Playing till the buzzer would provide more goals and give fans more drama and common sense in their sporting event.

We're lucky to see the different effects that subtle rules changes in soccer can have from the high-school game and college game because these changes are sometimes the only comparison we have versus FIFA's 'Laws of the Game.'

The professional leagues, MLS-NASL-USL, are governed by FIFA and can't deviate from what FIFA prescribes without permission from them.  If a pro league was to deviate, it would be considered a rogue league and players playing in this kind of league would lose playing privileges for their respective National Teams.

While it's true that MLS experimented with having the clock count down early in its existence, referees still controlled when the halves would end (see link in above paragraph).  There were no actual buzzers to beat.

There are a variety of rules that have a slight twist to them from high-school and college soccer.  For example, substituting players in at different times so that they may come out and back into the game is permissible.

As March Madness approaches, the term 'buzzer-beater' will be heard often.  Arguably, it is the item that has driven the success of the NCAA college basketball tournament more than anything else.

College basketball is the sport that got the phrase to be so well known.  MLS should take a cue from college basketball and ask permission from FIFA for a trial period in order to have more of its own 'madness.'


  1. The MLS experimented with a count down clock in its early years and I am pretty sure it was an unmitigated failure. Fans hated it.

    1. Extra time was always added on by the referee-there was never really a buzzer to beat at that time (in the rare event no extra time was added, the referee still ended the half.) the referee always ended the halves.


    3. Everyone hated it because it was implemented horribly. They changed it to a countdown clock, but that's literally all it did. They didn't stop the clock for goals or injuries, they didn't allow any stoppage time, and the game still didn't end when the clock hit zero. If you're going to remove stoppage time, you can't keep the clock continuously running or people will simply stall and make the game unfair.

      People seem to focus on "count-down clock" when it comes to this issue. In reality, that's not the issue here at all. Americans don't care that the clock counts up. Americans don't care that the clock never stops. Americans don't even really care that stoppage time is added on at the end. The issue at hand here, and what Americans are truly saying when they complain about this issue, is that there is no official CONCRETE ending to the game. If Americans could predict the exact second that the game is going to end, they wouldn't care that the clock isn't counting down.

  2. I've often thought a good compromise would be as follows. Time the game exactly the same as it has been for the first 90 minutes. Once the clock hits 90 minutes and stoppage time is announced, a second "countdown clock" appears with the amount of stoppage time indicated. This "countdown clock" will stop anytime the ball is not in play. Simultaneously, the game clock will continue to count up without stopping as it always has to record accurate minutes, but once the "countdown clock" (which is now 100% accurate since it will stop for all out-of-plays) hits 0, the game is over. We can leave it up for debate whether that's immediate or at the next out-of-play, but either way, this is the best of both worlds in my opinion.

    1. I appreciate your suggestion and it is a compromise of sorts. I believe the best scenario is to have a clock counting down and a buzzer. The rule I delineated for this is rule #1-3

    2. I agree that a full countdown clock would be ideal. However, after being around soccer fans for any significant amount of time, you quickly realize that they're not going to budge on the rules at all. We would have to make very small changes to get them to accept anything. The rule I listed above is an attempt at that.