Professional soccer games are 90 minutes of official playing time broken down into two 45-minute halves. There is also stoppage time, which adds a few minutes on the clock before each half’s conclusion. During the regular season, a game concludes with either a tie or a winner/loser after 90 minutes of action. Teams receive three points for winning or one point tying for each match they play.
Throughout knockout tournaments like the playoffs or FIFA World Cup, there must be a winner, which is when the extra time comes into the picture. During the World Cup playoffs, extra time is two 15-minute halves with additional stoppage time. The team with the most goals after extra time wins the game.
So why do regular-season games end after 90 minutes of game time and playoff games have extra time? When do soccer penalty kicks come into play during overtime? What is the golden goal rule in soccer? Here is the complete breakdown of extra time in soccer (association football).
How Long is the Break Before Extra Time Begins?
After 90 minutes of regulation time during a knockout stage game, the match moves into extra time. There is a quick 5-minute break between the second half and extra time. The short 5-minute break is to perform a coin flip to determine which team starts with the ball during the first extra period. The five-minute halftime break also allows soccer coaches to make a substitution if they need to do so and for the players to get water.
How Many Minutes is Extra Time in a Soccer Match?
The number of minutes of extra time is 30 minutes broken down into two 15 minute different periods. Just like during the regular 90 minutes of gameplay, there is a stoppage of time added to the end of each period. The amount of time added to the end of a period is at the discretion of the referee to determine from stoppages. Stoppages include goal celebrations, injury time, getting the ball for a throw-in, corner kicks, and any other wasting time moments.
Does the Game Automatically End when One Team Scores During Extra Time?
Association football matches keep continuing during extra time regardless of whether one team scores in the first minute or not. The opposing team can still use the two 15 minute periods to tie and win the game. The Laws of the Game rule 7 is the official rule on how extra time works in soccer games today.
When Does a Penalty Shootout Occur?
A soccer penalty shootout occurs after the two 15-minute periods if there is still no winner. The penalty shootout works with each team having five players take penalty kicks against their opponent’s goalkeeper. At the end of the five rounds of penalty kicks, whatever team has the most goals win the game. If, after five rounds, both teams are still in a tie, then the game goes into a sudden death shootout.
During the 2021 MLS Cup, NYCFC beat the Portland Timbers in a shootout after extra time did not conclude with a winner. NYCFC and Portland Timbers went into a penalty kick shootout to determine a winner, and New York came out on top with more goals than the Timbers.
What about the Golden Goal Rule in Soccer?
The golden goal rule means that the first team that scores during extra time wins the game regardless of how much game clock is left. There was a period that the golden goal rule was in FIFA World Cups, but in 2004, the IFAB announced the removal of that and the silver goal rule from the Laws of the Game.
One reason for removing this rule was that the level of play wasn’t exciting. For example, soccer players were trying not to lose instead of winning games since it was a one-and-done score. By removing the golden goal rule, the extra time allows both teams to try and win the game since there are only 30 minutes left on the clock.
However, while the golden goal rule is no longer in professional soccer, NCAA college soccer and high school still use this format.
What About the Silver Goal Rule?
The UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) silver goal rule in soccer would conclude a winner in overtime when one team led at the end of the first 15 minute period. However, just like the golden goal rule, it was not popular and was eventually phased out of soccer leagues in favor of the two 15-minute halves.
How Long is Overtime in College Soccer?
College soccer has two 10-minute overtime periods to determine a winner. However, games can end in college soccer via the golden goal rule, which means the first score wins.
Why Don’t Regular Season Soccer Games Have Extra Time?
The reason why games conclude after 90 minutes during the regular season is to reduce unnecessary injuries. Since games can end in a tie, both teams receive one point, and if there is a winner, they receive three. Team points matter at the end of the season to determine the best team during that year.
In MLS, for example, there is the Supporter’s Shield award that goes to the team at the end of the season with the most points from wins. Since MLS goes into a traditional playoff structure with extra time in their rounds, they still use the point system to represent the best team during the regular season. For example, the New England Revolution won the Supporter’s Shield award in 2021, but they lost in the playoffs to the eventual MLS Cup champion, NYCFC.
The team with the most regular-season points during the 38-game season wins the title in the Premier League. There are no playoffs at the end of the year in the Premier League, which is different than what you have with Major League Soccer. That means some teams could win the Premier League before the season ends if no other team can catch them in points with the remaining games.
Conclusion: How Long is Extra Time in Soccer?
In summary, professional men’s and women’s soccer games have extra time during knockout soccer games to determine the winning team. There was a time that the golden goal rule would determine a winner, which meant that the first team that would score a goal in overtime would win the game regardless of the amount of time left on the clock. Today, soccer games have two 15-minute extra halves to determine a winner.
If after the two 15 minute halves there is still no winner, the soccer game moves to a penalty shootout. The penalty shootout is the best of five series, with the team winning the game scoring more goals. During the MLS cup in 2021, NYCFC won the tournament in this stage via the penalty kick shootout.