North American Soccer League owners voted yesterday to change the league's point system next season and to submit to the FIFA, the international governing board of soccer, a list of proposals that would radically change the game.
The owners, meeting in Toronto, voted to award a team winning in regulation or overtime nine standings points, and a team winning in a shootout seven. In the past, all victories were worth six points.
Additionally, the first goal a team scores will be worth one standings point, the second worth two and the third three. Thus a team that wins a game and scores three or more goals will get 15 points. In the past, the maximum was nine points.
The changes, sources said, are designed to encourage teams to play more offensively by making the second and third goals worth more points. They will also discourage teams from playing for a shootout, since a shootout victory will be worth fewer points than an over time win. That change is expected to show its effect near the end of the season when teams struggle for playoff position and each standings point is crucial.
Meanwhile, after lengthy discussion, the owners voted to submit to the FIFA a list of proposals that would change the game considerably. They include widening the goal, eliminating back-passes to the goalkeeper, assessing penalty time for yellow cards, and shortening the game from 90 to 70 minutes, but adding timeouts when the ball is out of play.
Since the NASL is romancing the FIFA in an attempt to bring the World Cup to the U.S. in 1986, the league does not want to make such basic changes in the game without dealing with the world body first. But by taking that route, such changes probably could not be enacted in time for the 1981 season.
The league also approved a recommendation from its competition committee that the minigame be eliminated from playoff competition. Next season all playoff sereis leading to the Soccer Bowl will be best two of three, length-ending the season about two weeks.
On another front, Toronto and Edmonton were the only cities to make bids to be the host city for Soccer Bowl '81, Commissioner Phil Woosnam said. No decision was made, but no matter which city is chosen, it will be the first time that the NASL championship game will be played in Canada.
Anticipated presentations from Tampa, Fla.; Washington, D.C., and the Meadowlands in New Jersey never materialized, Woosnam said.