American-izing Major League Soccer, Without Wrecking It – Forbes

MLS commissioner Don Garber could jazz up his product, without really hurting it.

It ain’t broke, but let’s fix it anyway.

Although Major League Soccer has made enormous strides over the past two decades, some creative tinkering might woo an even wider American audience and ensure a greater cash flow. I’ve already proposed dumping the Brit-obsessed franchise nicknames, such as F.C. and United. What follows are four more ideas commissioner Don Garber should embrace to attract casual sports fans — while not messing with the very soul of the beautiful game.

The changes may require FIFA approval, but the governing body seems only too happy to allow individual pro leagues like MLS to play the role of lab rats. This is not about altering the offside rule or making goals bigger. These are less intrusive adjustments that could make a big difference:

1. The stadium clock should keep the official time. There is no real reason why the referee’s wristwatch remains a well-kept secret from the crowd. Such a confidential nature cheats viewer participation. Americans like to count down the final seconds of their sports events. They want to witness firsthand the race against a final whistle.

The scoreboard clock can still be controlled by the referee, who signals for it to stop during injuries, substitutions and whenever the ball goes out of bounds in the final 10 minutes (to prevent stalling by the team that is leading). There will be no added time, however, and no discretion by the ref if a team happens to be attacking when time expires.

College and high school games are already timed in this fashion, for the most part, though some insist on freezing the scoreboard clock in the final minutes. No need for that. If the game ends before a corner kick can be taken, so be it.

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