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Change in MLS Water Break Rule Could Affect Play for Orlando City in 2016

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For the 2016 season, MLS has implemented a change in the rules regarding water breaks. Orlando City will most likely be the team most affected by the new rule.

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Orlando City is etched in the annals of MLS history, but not for what you would think. The Lions are the first team ever to have an official water break in MLS play. Back on June 14 at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando played D.C. United. At the 30-minute mark, just after Kaká scored the only goal of the game, the water break occurred.

According to the rules at the time, the wet bulb globe temperature (which is the combined measurement of temperature, humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation) would have to measure at 89.6° or higher to warrant a water break. If that were the case during the pregame warm-ups, the fourth official was responsible for calling the mandatory break 30 minutes into each half and these would last up to three minutes.

If the temperature would have dropped by at least 10 degrees, to 79.6 degrees Fahrenheit, prior to the 30th and 75th minutes, the officials had the ability to nullify the hydration break. In Orlando's case, mother nature didn't play nice, and the teams ended up having a break during the 30th and 75th minutes of the game after the temperature on the measuring device read 90.9° on the field.

While that's all mostly unchanged going into 2016, MLS announced recently that the mandatory temperature threshold has been lowered almost seven degrees, to 82. This means that there will be a lot of water breaks coming for Orlando City this season, especially during the summer.

This is a double-edged sword, essentially. Getting a three-minute break at your respective benches to have a good talk with the gaffer could allow some strategic changes to take place, especially if the team is under-performing. On the other hand, if Orlando has momentum going forward and looks dangerous, the water break could kill off that momentum and let the opposing team recompose itself in order to figure out a way to get back into the game.

Essentially, it's like a media timeout in basketball. You may or may not want it to happen, but it's happening regardless. This may even be a ploy to get more commercial time into nationally televised games. Honestly, I wouldn't put it past the higher ups in MLS to try and figure something like that out.

How many games will this affect? In 2015, two games were disrupted by water breaks at the old threshold. Had the wet bulb threshold been 82, it would have affected 10 more games -- most of those in the trio of Orlando, Dallas and Houston.

So what do you think of the new water break rule? Is it a distraction? Is the change good for safety or is the league erring too far on the side of caution, given a lack of health issues in years past? Is this just a ploy to get more advertising dollars and add commercial breaks? Let us know what you think in the comments below.