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MLS to participate in concussion sub pilot program

Major League Soccer takes big step to address issues of head injuries.

MLS: New England Revolution at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, Major League Soccer announced that it would be participating in FIFA’s pilot program, which would implement concussion substitutions into the game, in the 2021 season.

The pilot program will allow clubs to make a total of two substitutions throughout the match to be used on players who sustained or are suspected of having a concussion. These substitutions do not count as regular substitutions and are separate from the five substitutes in three windows.

If a team were to use a concussion substitution at any point in a game, the opposing team will be awarded an extra substitution as a result.

When talking with, MLS Senior Vice President Jeff Agoos said the move “reduces competitive pressures, which forces the prioritization of the health and safety of the players above everything else.”

After years of serious incidents, like the one Revs fans saw with Matt Polster last September, it is a good sign to see the league is beginning to take more caution when it comes to head injuries and implementing measures to address the issue.

Revolution Head Coach and Sporting Director Bruce Arena was asked about the implementation of the concussion substitute on Monday.

“I think player safety is important,” Arena said. How you implement that is still an unknown. I think what they’ve done is probably going to need to be adjusted at some point, but I think player safety is the most important thing. How you go about dealing with that remains to be seen. Obviously, there’s going to be a trial period this year and hopefully it works out well. Again, the most important part of that concussion protocol is player safety, so if we can accomplish that, we’re moving in the right direction.”