Miami coach: Roster rules limit MLS vs. Liga MX

Inter Miami CF head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino blamed Major League Soccer roster rules for the team’s inability to compete “at the same level as Liga MX,” after being eliminated 5-2 on aggregate in the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinal series to CF Monterrey.

“I mentioned this earlier, if MLS doesn’t ease the various rules it has to have deeper rosters, with injuries and suspensions, Liga MX will continue to have the advantage,” Martino said in his postgame news conference. “Still, I’ve always thought, even while working in Mexico and now working in the U.S., that the comparison between the two leagues is useless.

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“MLS still cannot compete with Liga MX at the same level because of roster rules. I think the process will be changing, with alterations coming in the short term,” the coach said.

Miami first fell to Monterrey 2-1 on April 3 at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as the Lionel Messi-less squad struggled to hold Maximiliano Meza and Jorge Rodríguez back.

Even with Messi returning for Miami, the Liga MX team continued to dominate in the second leg, triumphing 3-1 with goals from Jesús Gallardo, Germán Berterame and Brandon Vázquez.

Rayados made five substitutions throughout the night, while Miami remained intact for the 90-plus minutes of action.

Martino explained the lack of changes stemmed from the inexperience of his bench.

“The young players that were on the bench were just that. Too young,” he said. “The development of the game didn’t give way to use them and put them in a situation totally adverse. That’s why I thought it was best to finish the game with the same players that started.”

Inter Miami player Julian Gressel reiterated the team’s frustrations with a lack of depth.

“I don’t want to make excuses, I don’t want to come here and say that’s why we’re out, but I think if you look at the two benches, it gives you a pretty good idea of what it’s like,” he said.

“I hope that the MLS will take the right steps to potentially, in the future, be able to have a deeper roster so that you can compare a little bit more and you can kind of make a push for this competition more.”

MLS roster changes are on the horizon.

Sources confirmed to ESPN that the MLS board of governors approved changes to the league’s roster rules Tuesday, designed to allow teams more flexibility in how rosters are constructed.

Executives also approved the easing of restrictions on the combined number of designated players and under-22 initiative signings.

Other changes include doubling the number of contract buyouts allowed per season, as well as increasing the amount of general allocation money teams receive when players are transferred out of the league.

The modifications, which must be approved by the MLS Players Association, are set to go into effect when the summer transfer window opens July 18.

Information from Jeff Carlisle was used in this report.

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