MLS: The shootout stays

Despite a recent Soccer America Online poll, in which 65 percent of 1,050 fans said they were opposed to the shootout, Major League Soccer plans to keep the tiebreaker.

In an interview before the San Jose-MetroStars opener that ended in a 0-0 tie and went to a shootout lasting 11 rounds, MLS commissioner Doug Logan said general fans support the shootout.

"I found it very interesting," Logan said of the poll. "I think that most of the people that read your magazine and take the time to respond are probably diehard soccer fans, whom we certainly want to listen to and whom we've heard from on repeated occasions about game determination. However, we want the sport to seed itself in this country and to grow with the general sports audience. We've done similar polls in stadiums, where there's a larger universe of fans, and the results seem to be just about the opposite."

MLS executive vice president Randy Bernstein confirmed that league-run poll results favored the shootout by a similar margin, but was unable to produce the actual data.

Logan did say he would love to add overtime, but TV remains the obstacle.

"Our leverage is minimal with regard to TV right now," he says. "I think it's fair to say that if I had a 2-1/2 hour editorial hole on TV, I'd go to overtime and have the game determined on the field. We'll have some interesting choices on our hands perhaps not in '98, but in '99."

While there was some consideration for adding overtime during the first rounds of the playoffs, Logan said that two 15-minute sudden-death periods will only be played in the final if the game is tied after 90 minutes.

"I certainly realize that this is a controversial issue," he says, "and it is something that we will revisit on a year-in, year-out basis. We reviewed it thoroughly after last season, and I expect we'll do that at the end of every year."

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