MLS Overtime Rules


Major League Soccer games feature low scores, and this puts you on the edge of your seat. Each opportunity for a goal feels heavy with importance and things get tense when time is ticking down. Low scores mean more of a chance for a tie, but don't get excited for overtime; only playoff games feature on-field tiebreakers.

Two-legged Tiebreaker

Regular season MLS games end at 90 minutes, even if the score is tied, but the impact of the game is determined using the away-goals rule. Most MLS teams play each other twice during the season. To determine the fate of the tied match, the team that scored the most away goals during the two-game series effectively "wins" the tie. For example, if the Galaxy and Fire tie the first game of the year in LA at 4-4, then the Galaxy beat the Fire in Chicago 3-2, the Fire would retroactively "win" the first game because they scored four "away" goals in LA, whereas LA only scored three goals in Chicago.

Two Overtimes and Penalty Kicks

A playoff game's tied score leads to a 15-minute overtime that starts after a short break. The overtime must be played to completion; there is no sudden death or "golden goals". If the score is still tied, a second 15-minute overtime begins after another break, also played to completion. Penalty kicks then break a game-play tie. Each team elects five different players for five individual penalty kicks, alternating kicks between teams. If the five-kick penalty score is tied, then each team kicks one extra penalty shot until the tie is finally broken.