Craig Stouffer has the lowdown on an NCAA rule change that is a massive coup for MLS; simply put, players will no longer jeopardize their eligibility if they simply play alongside professionals. Yes, if you weren't aware, that was the old rule, as asinine as it sounds.
If, and it's looking fairly certain from what most in-the-know are saying, the reserve league comes back, MLS academy prospects can now play in those matches without losing their college eligibility. The opportunity to test academy kids against stronger opposition will ultimately be invaluable to clubs as they look to flesh out who's ready for the first team and who's not.
College soccer isn't going anywhere; this rule change lets kids who aren't ready for MLS at 18 move on to the college game with a chance to get an education. If they're good enough for the league when their college time is over, the MLS club can always bring them back. New rule, new options.
Again, in terms of the league's ability to bring along young players through competition against professionals and better identify the best prospects in which to invest first-team contracts, the benefit of this rule change cannot be overstated.
Unfortunately, the rule change didn't come about specifically due to soccer. That fact gives us little hope college soccer's on-field rules will be brought in line with FIFA rules anytime soon.