League Rules

Updated 1/9/2022

The Golden Rule:  Don't be a Dick! (self-explanatory)

Eligibility:  Only those individuals who have a completed application, acknowledged the Rules and Release of Liability for the current season, meet the age requirement and submit the appropriate fee, are eligible to play in the 4S Ranch Men's Soccer League.

Age Requirement:  Players must be at least 30 years of age (keepers 25) as of January 1st of the season to play in this league.  

Fee:  Fee must be received by or before the date stated at registration.  The fee can fluctuate per season, based on needs and expenses. Sub Pool will pay $10/game unless asked to join a team full-time and fee would then be prorated accordingly.

Refunds:  Refunds are done automatically for players that don't make a roster via the method they paid their fee.  Checks will be shredded.  Once the season starts, refunds will be prorated and only applicable within the first two weeks of the season. No refunds after the second week. The only exception would be if 50% or more of the season could not be played and/or rescheduled due to public issues (e.g. coronavirus) and/or inclement weather (e.g. lightning, high winds).  In those circumstances, players would either receive a prorated refund or prorated credit toward the following season.  If less than 50% of the season cannot be played due to inclement weather or an "Act of God", the League would receive credit and would apply it toward the following season.    

Field Set-up:  If required, both teams for the first game are responsible for setting up goals & corner flags.  Both teams for the last game are responsible for returning nets & corner flags and for locking the goals & shed (nets & flags go back in the locked shed).

Minimum Players:  Each team must have a minimum of seven (7) players from its roster at the assigned starting time of the game (5 minute waiting period) or they forfeit.  A forfeit by one team will be scored 1-0; by both teams 0-0 (draw).

Substitutions:  Substitutions during the match are allowed on dead balls from the CENTER TOUCH LINE, with the consent of the referee.  Each team is allowed an unlimited number of substitutions during the match.  An exception is on throw-ins. Only the team taking the throw-in can initiate sub(s). If so, then the opposing team may also sub.

Request for Substitute / Replacement:  Players must notify their team manager if they can't make game(s).  If a sub is required, the player would notify their manager when ready to return and the manager would then contact the League Admin. Admin will contact players in the Sub Pool with a similar rating - all players receive a rating based upon the agreement of managers and Admin. The first player(s) to reply will receive the spot(s).

Soccer Pitch.G04.2k

Absences:  Any player who misses three (3) consecutive games will be substituted (for minimum two more games); any player who misses five (5) total games during a season can be immediately replaced for the season, no refund, and may not be eligible to be assigned to a team the following season (eligible for Sub Pool). Legitimate reasons noted to their team manager will be excepted (e.g. injury, military duty). If a player misses two (2) games and does not notify their manager of their absence, they will be immediately replaced - no refund.

Teams & Selection:  Depending on the number of registered players and determination of parity, League Admin and Managers have the option of keeping the same teams season-over-season, with or without changes, OR conducting an open draft.  If a draft or keeping teams with changes, placements will not be guaranteed.

Referee & Linesmen: Referees and linesmen are certified through the County of San Diego.    

Slide Tackling: NO slide tackling allowed* (goalies excluded inside their own 18-yard [penalty] box). If the referee determines that the slide tackle is with excessive and reckless force, the referee can use their discretion (issue yellow or red card) and send the player off the pitch.

* EXCEPTION:  If a player slide tackles to score a goal, to save a goal, intercept, or save the ball from going out of bounds AND there is NO OTHER OPPONENT INVOLVED IN THE PLAY, then the slide tackle is allowed and there is no infraction.  

If a player commits a slide tackle with an opponent involved in a play, the referee must caution (yellow card) the player for misconduct and ensure to verbally warn the player. If the player already has a yellow card for another infraction then the referee must send off the player for a double yellow = red card (R1).

There is NO playing or attempting to play while not on one’s feet when other players are within playing distance. This is considered dangerous play.


  • Shin guards and soccer cleats are required. NO METAL CLEATS ALLOWED. We play on turf
  • Headbands and Full90 Performance Headguard™ (or similar) are allowed. No hats with a bill allowed except for goalkeepers
  • Glasses must be for prescription wear only and frames must be safety or sports approved
  • Stud earrings are allowed; any earrings that extend below the player’s earlobe are not permitted for their safety
  • Watches are not allowed. Fitbit and similar MUST be covered by PADDED wrist sweatband(s)
  • Hair length below the shoulders must be tied up in a ponytail or bun

RED & YELLOW CARDS (follow into playoffs)

Red Cards

There are two (2) categories for red cards: Non-Violent (R1) and Violent (R2).
In either case, the player who receives a red card during a game, must leave the pitch immediately, and their team will not be allowed a sub for remainder of match.

R1 (WILL be allowed to play next match):

  • "Last man left" handball
  • Denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick
  • Any other non-violent fouls deemed an R1 by refs
  • Receives a second yellow card in the same match, unless total for season is greater than 5, then R2 applies
  • Two R1 cards and R2 rules apply

R2 (WILL NOT be eligible to play next or future matches):

  • Guilty of serious foul play/violent conduct
  • Spits on an opponent or any other person
  • Uses offensive, insulting, abusive, and/or threatening language and/or gestures 
  • Any other fouls deemed as R2 by refs

Yellow Cards

This is a caution card and at the ref's discretion. Two yellow cards in the same match will constitute an R1. For every yellow card after the fifth (5th) in a season, the player must sit out the following game, including playoffs. No subs allowed in these instances.

  • Aggressive play that can be potentially dangerous
  • Rushes keeper in penalty box on 50/50 balls that requires keeper to move out of the way
  • Collisions with keepers on 50/50 balls can be an R1 or R2 
  • Unsportsmanship behavior (includes cursing)
  • Shows dissent by word or action
  • Persistently infringes the Laws of the Game
  • Delays the restart of play
  • Intentional flop
  • Fails to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free-kick, or throw in
  • Enters or re-enters the field of play without the referee's permission
  • Deliberately leaves the field of play without the referee's permission

Managerial Suspension: At the official Manager’s Meeting prior to each season, Managers may impose a one-season Managerial Suspension on any player that has consistently exhibited behavior that is considered to be contrary to the spirit and benefit of the League and its players. Such suspension would require a 50%+1 vote of the Managers.


    • During a free-kick – direct or indirect – if the defending team has three or more players in a wall, the attacking team may NOT have a player within one yard of the wall. This means that attacking teams CANNOT place wall-busters to break up a wall or look to have players lose their marks by running through or around a wall. If they do, the referee can penalize the attacking team with a free-kick in the other direction.

      • Quick free-kicks can now be taken before a referee shows a yellow card, and the referee is allowed to wait before showing his yellow card until the next stoppage in play. Previously, if a free-kick resulted in a yellow card, the attacking team would have to wait until the referee shows his card before play can resume. However, the rule still stands where a referee distracted by already beginning to display a caution may halt a quick free-kick until he finishes the action.
        • As a caveat to this, if the referee was going to show a red card for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, the attacking team still may take a quick free-kick, but the punishment automatically reverts from a red card into a yellow as the attacking team is considered to have restarted its course of play.
    • Goalkeepers may now come slightly closer while defending a penalty, only required to have one foot on the goal line instead of required to stand completely on it. Most referees allow leniency on this rule anyway, but now there is a bit of written leniency to go along with the flexibility on the field.
    • Also regarding penalties, an attacker who required medical treatment may now be allowed to take a penalty once treatment is concluded. Under the previous rule, if an attacker required treatment after a penalty was given must come off the field and be not allowed to take the ensuing penalty.
    • A drop ball will now be awarded if a ball strikes a referee and falls in possession of the opposition side, or if the ball strikes the referee and ends up in the back of the net.
    • Drop balls can no longer be contested. However, along with that, drop balls can be taken by an attacking team wherever they possessed the ball when play was stopped, meaning an attacking team can continue from the point at which the attack was stopped.
      • One caveat: any play stopped in the penalty area will be returned to the goalkeeper no matter who possessed the ball at the stoppage.
    • Goal-kicks. A goal-kick is no longer required to leave the penalty area before a teammate touches the ball, meaning once the goalkeeper touches the ball for the kick, it is immediately considered in play. Opponents must remain outside the penalty area when a goal-kick takes place.
    • Finally, a rule change has been made to try and combat time-wasting with substitutes. Any substitute must leave the field of play at the nearest sideline point unless the referee determines he can quickly make his way back to the team’s designated touchline area.

The handball rule has also been re-written, but instead of explaining the changes, it’s better just to display the entire new rewritten rule. According to the newly written laws, the changes are:

    • Deliberate handball remains an offense. The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:
      • The ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm
      • A player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity
      • The ball touches a player’s hand/arm which has made their body unnaturally bigger
      • The ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it is above their shoulder (unless the player has deliberately played the ball which then touches their hand/arm)
      • The following will not usually be a free kick unless they are one of the above situations:
        • The ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/near 
        • The ball touches a player’s hand/arm which is close to their body and has not made their body unnaturally bigger
        • If a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body (but not extended to make the body bigger)
        • If the goalkeeper attempts to ‘clear’ (release into play) a throw-in or deliberate kick from a team-mate but the ‘clearance’ fails, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball

The IFAB wrote lengthy reasoning for the change in the handball rule. This reads,

Greater clarity is needed for handball, especially on those occasions when ‘non-deliberate’ handball is an offense. The re-wording follows a number of principles:

  • Football does not accept a goal being scored by a hand/arm (even if accidental)
  • Football expects a player to be penalized for handball if they gain possession/control of the ball from their hand/arm and gain a major advantage e.g. score or create a goal-scoring opportunity
  • It is natural for a player to put their arm between their body and the ground for support when falling.
  • Having the hand/arm above shoulder height is rarely a ‘natural’ position and a player is ‘taking a risk’ by having the hand/arm in that position, including when sliding
  • If the ball comes off the player’s body, or off another player (of either team) who is close by, onto the hands/arms it is often impossible to avoid contact with the ball
  • When the GK clearly kicks or tries to kick the ball into play, this shows no intention to handle the ball so, if the ‘clearance’ attempt is unsuccessful, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball without committing an offense

Standings & Playoffs:  Standings are determined by points based on overall record; three points for a win, one point for a tie, and zero points for a loss.

Points Leaderboard: The Golden Boot (regular season) is given to the player with the most points. If tied, then in order of precedence - (1) points per game (PPG), and (2) goals.

Tiebreakers, in order of precedence: head to head, goal-differential, shutouts, and coin toss. Playoff seeding, if scheduled, will be determined by the above criteria.

4 teams – 1v4 and 2v3.  The winners of those games will play for the championship.  Losers for 3rd.

5 teams – 1v4 and 2v3.  Fifth place will not make the playoffs.  Championship between two winners following week.

6 teams – 

  • 1st Round:  1st and 2nd seeds (friendly or bye); 3rd seed vs 6th seed; 4th seed vs 5th seed
  • Semi-finals & 5th Place: 1st seed vs 1st round winner w/ lowest remaining seed; 2nd seed vs 1st round winner w/ highest remaining seed; 5th place between two losers from 1st week
  • Championship & 3rd Place:  Winning teams from the 2nd round will play for the Championship.  Losing teams will play for 3rd place

8 teams – 

  • 1st Round:  1v8 - 2v7 - 3v6 - 4v5
  • 2nd Round:  Highest winning seed plays lowest winning seed. Second highest plays remaining winner. Highest losing seed will play the next highest losing seed for 5th place and the two remaining lowest losing seeds will play for 7th place
  • Championship & 3rd Place games:  Winners from the 2nd round will play for the Championship.  Losers will play for 3rd place

Match Duration:  Effective Spring 2022, each half is 40 minutes long.  If the match is terminated because of outside interference of any kind with less than 15 minutes remaining, the game is considered complete.  If a game is discontinued within the first half of play, the game will be replayed in its entirety (if scheduling allows).  If the game is interrupted during the second half with more than 15 minutes remaining, the game is continued at the next matchup from the point of interruption (score carries over, time re-starts at the point it was stopped).

Ties and Tie-Breakers:  Regular season games are allowed to end in a tie. For all playoff games that are tied at the end of regulation (except for the championship game), games will be decided by penalty kicks from the spot (no extra time per below).

For the championship game, one 8-minute period will be added (no golden goal). The higher seed will call the coin flip for side/kickoff. If it's still tied at the end of the overtime period, the game will be decided by kicks from the penalty mark. Any eleven players who have played in the game are eligible to take penalty kicks (do not have to be on the pitch when time expires); if one team has less than eleven players eligible for penalty kicks, the opposing team must reduce its number of eligible players to equate.

FIFA® Rules (governed by IFAB):  FIFA® rules apply unless in conflict with local rules above; in such case, local rules supersede.