According to the Minnesota Stars soccer team, the United States Soccer Federation hosted a conference call Wednesday afternoon to clarify playoff procedures for the USSF Division 2 Pro League and to announce the postseason awards procedure. Team administrators and media officers participated in the call. The following information could be accessed at the NSC Stars team blog.
The call’s primary focus was playoff operations. The playoffs begin immediately after the end of the regular season, with first-leg matches on October 6 and 7 and second-leg matches on October 9 and 10. The higher seeded team in each series has the choice of when to host its home leg.
Eight teams from the league qualify for the playoffs. The team with the most points at the end of the regular season will be seeded No. 1 in the playoffs, and the top team from the opposite conference will earn the second seed. The remaining teams will be seeded according to points, regardless of conference. If the season ended today, the Rochester Rhinos would earn the No. 1 seed, and the Vancouver Whitecaps the No. 2. The NSC Minnesota Stars currently occupy the last playoff spot, leading FC Tampa Bay based on head-to-head competition between the two teams.
The playoffs will be conducted in a two-game, total-goals series. Away goals are not used as a tiebreaker. Series that are tied after 180 minutes of regulation time will use the standard FIFA rules for extra time with two 15-minute halves, played in their entirety, followed by penalty kicks if necessary.
Other points from the playoffs include:
- Yellow cards received in the regular season will not carry over into the playoffs to count toward an accumulation suspension. The USSF is still determining how many yellow cards a player can receive during the postseason before receiving a suspension.
- Red card suspensions from the regular season will carry over into the playoffs.
- Video streaming will be required for all playoff matches.
- The match ball will change in the playoffs from the Nike T90 Ascente to the Nike T90 Tracer, which is currently the match ball in several major leagues, including the English Premier League, Italian Serie A and Spanish La Liga.
The call also marked the beginning of discussions for postseason awards. While the format for nominations is still being worked out, the USSF will recognize the league’s best goalkeeper, best defender, most valuable player, rookie of the year, coach of the year and a Best XI. The league’s top goalscorer will also be recognized with the Golden Boot.