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CONCACAF reduces roster sizes, introduces other rules changes for Gold Cup

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Say goodbye to mid-tournament roster changes.

United States v Costa Rica: Semifinal - 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Before CONCACAF unveiled the groups for this summer’s Gold Cup yesterday, the confederation announced a few changes to the biennial tournament aimed at bringing the competition in line with similar regional tournaments. Among the biggest changes include an end to mid-tournament roster changes and the re-institution of extra time during the knockout stage.

Previous Gold Cups allowed teams to have rosters of 30 or 35 that would allow them to replace as many as 6 players on their roster between the end of the group stage and the beginning of the knockout stage. Now, teams can only name 23-man rosters, which means that when United States head coach Gregg Berhalter names his squad sometime in late May, that will be the only 23 players who will be eligible to play in the Gold Cup, even if someone gets injured.

The other major change sees extra time being re-introduced into the knockout stage. Before, only the Gold Cup final had two 15-minute extra time periods. The quarterfinals and semifinals both advanced directly to penalties if the score was deadlocked after 90 minutes. This will mean teams can still attempt to win games on the field and not have to worry about penalties after 90 minutes. CONCACAF Chief of Football Manolo Zubiria said in an interview with Goal.com that after “thorough evaluation,” the region decided that it needed extra time during the knockout stage “to not leave anything to chance in a penalty shootout.”

Finally, the International Football Association Board’s updated rules of the game will be in effect for the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF U-17 Championship. This includes requiring substitutes to leave the field of play at the nearest touch line, the end of the requirement that goal kicks leave the box before being touched by an offensive player, and the new interpretation of handball. However, VAR haters will rejoice as the technology will not be in use for this summer’s Gold Cup.

Hit the comments to leave your thoughts on the rules changes and how they could affect the United States Men’s National Team this summer.