USL confirmed on Saturday reports they would be moving to allowing three substitutes per game for the 2017 season.
The league, which permitted five substitutes per match previously due to the schedule constraints where some teams would play games on consecutive nights or with only one day of rest, conceded their schedule has been structured in a way that will no longer make that consideration necessary. For example, the Orange County Blues had more than one occasion in 2015 when they had a road trip with one day of rest between games, but did not have any conditions like that in the season just concluded.
In all likelihood, most fans will welcome the change, seeing as three subs is the standard in all professional leagues and in competitive international games. While the practical reasons for having five substitutes available per game were perhaps logical, newcomers to the league were often surprised and sometimes derided the departure from the global standard.
Of course, this will lead to some changes for managers, who will have to adjust their in-game strategy from the prior option of replacing 45 percent of the players on the field. And it can be argued that for teams primarily concerned with player development, moving to a three-sub set-up could negatively impact raw players getting a chance to play.
But all in all, this seems like a sound and logical move. And it means USL games are going to resemble MLS games (at least in this sense) that much more next year.
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