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Overtime, not shootouts OKed for league games.

TAMPA, Fla. (Tuesday, November 2, 1999) -- For the first time in its 14-year history, United Soccer Leagues will allow a game to end without a winner.

The league will still award four points for a victory in 2000, but will allow games to end in a draw following 20 minutes of sudden death.

The decision was reached by the USL competition committee and the results of a survey conducted on the USL's web site.

Based on more than 1,000 completed surveys, only three percent of the respondents favored the Major League Soccer system of going directly to a shootout after regulation time. Nearly four out of every five voters favored the option of ending tied games in a draw.

"I think this is a dangerous attempt at giving the new purist of American soccer their day," said USL president Francisco Marcos. "We'll see how it goes for one year and we'll see just how many of these soccer purists there are that say Americans will accept ties."

The ruling states that in all USL regular season games in 2000, if a game is tied after 90 minutes, two periods of 10-minute sudden-death overtime will be played. If the score remains tied, each team shall be awarded one point in the standings.

Since its early days as the Southwest Indoor Soccer League, the nation's second-largest system of sports leagues has never had a game end in a tie. From SISL to USISL to USL, the organization has always decided level games with a shootout tiebreaker.

"We are keeping the value of a victory at four points," Marcos said. "We want to discourage draws by making the gap between a tie and a victory significant. We want to make the tie, or kissing your sister, as it is referred to in America, like kissing the ugliest sister in a multi-sister family."

The current system, introduced last season, which allows for a team to earn a maximum of five points with each victory will remain in place for 2000. The only change in the point system for next season amounts to the lack of an extra point awarded to the team that wins a shootout.

The bonus point, instituted in 1999, will return next season, meaning teams which score three or more goals in a game shall receive one bonus point in the standings, regardless of the result of the game. Of those who responded to the survey, 57 percent feel the bonus point system encourages attacking soccer.

The two 10-minute sudden-death sessions will be employed , despite a heavy majority in favor of two 15-minute periods. A total of 56 percent of the voters favored two 15-minute period compared to 19 percent for two 10s.

"Because teams generally play two games in a 48-hour period all season long, we felt that we would potentially be saving the players 20 minutes per week," Marcos said. "We were in favor of two periods of overtime in fairness to the teams because of factors such as the weather."

A majority of the voters also favored the sudden-death overtime format, as 72 percent of the respondents chose the golden-goal option as opposed to mandatory overtime periods. In more than 1,400 USL games in 1999, 16 percent were tied after regulation.

Survey results

1. If tied after 90 minutes, how should the game be decided?
Remain as a tie - 39%
Overtime - 40%
Shootout - 3%
Overtime and shootout - 18%

2. If you prefer an overtime period, which do you prefer?
Full overtime period - 28%
Sudden-death overtime period - 72%

3. Which of the following overtime formats do you prefer?
Two 15-minute periods - 56%
Two 10-minute periods - 19%
One 20-minute period - 9%
One 15-minute period - 15%

4. Would you like to see the new National Hockey League overtime system -- in which each side is reduced by a player -- used in soccer?
Yes - 19%
No - 81%

5. If so, would you favor seeing the number of players decreased with each subsequent overtime?
Yes - 35%
No - 65%

6. Based on four points for a regulation win, how many points should a team receive for winning in overtime?
2 - 20%
3 - 33%
4 - 48%

7. How many points should a team that loses in overtime receive?
0 - 56%
1 - 35%
2 - 9%

8. Based on four points for a regulation win, how many points should a team receive for winning in a shootout?
1 - 33%
2 - 44%
3 - 23%

9. How many points should a team that loses in a shootout receive?
0 - 50%
1 - 44%
2 - 6%

10. If you feel the game should end in a tie, how many points should each team receive?
0 - 3%
1 - 65%
2 - 31%

11. Do you think the bonus point system encourages attacking soccer?
Yes - 57%
No - 43%

12. Should USL and Major League Soccer use the same tiebreaker and point systems?
Yes - 90%
No - 10%

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