There will be no strike in Major League Soccer. While negotiations went down to the final hours before this weekend's season-opening matches, the MLS and MLS Players Union have struck a deal to get the ball rolling on Friday.
Continue for updates.
MLSPU Executive Director Bob Foose Talks New CBA
Friday, March 6
Brian Straus of Sports Illustrated reported Foose's thoughts on how the new CBA came to be:
“That’s the groundbreaking part of this deal for us and that’s what will ultimately lead to really substantial and real positive change for this league. That, despite the fact that what we heard consistently through the process was that [free agency] would never happen."
“That’s a very, very good start for us. And we did in 12 years. That’s something I don’t want to be lost on anyone. We’re 12 years into this union and we’ve been able to introduce some free agency… none of the other major leagues has ever done it anywhere near that quickly in North America.”
“From the most basic perspective, it’s about player choice. But the impact of this that won’t be seen or reported on is, number one, the deals that are going to get done between the players and their current clubs are going to change because those players have the ability to leave at the end of their contract. Number two, it’s no longer going to be a viable strategy for a team in this league to have its players feel as through they’re not being treated fairly. If they do that, it’s going to have an impact on the club. Frankly those things will have a more substantial affect on this league, by far, then counting the number of players who actually change teams.”
ESPN's Jeff Carlisle reported that a $3.49 salary cap plus allocations could push the total cap over $3.7 million in 2015.
Players Unhappy With Concessions in CBA
Thursday, March 5
ESPN's Darren Rovell reported that at least one MLS player is unhappy with the new CBA, saying "I'm very disappointed...We caved & didn't stand up for ourselves."
New CBA Officially Revealed
Wednesday, March 4
MLSsoccer.com posted an official statement from MLS commissioner Don Garber on Wednesday, confirming any problems have been settled:
We are pleased to finalize the framework for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players. We now enter our 20th season with enormous momentum with our new television partnerships, dynamic star players from the US, Canada and abroad, and two new expansion teams in New York City and Orlando that will debut in front of more than 60,000 fans on Sunday in the Citrus Bowl.
This agreement will provide a platform for our players, ownership and management to work together to help build Major League Soccer into one of the great soccer leagues in the world.
MLS Ready to Makes Changes
Wednesday, March 4
Julie Stewart-Binks of Fox Sports previously tweeted details on the changes to free agency, which are likely to be ushered in with the deal:
MLS had been involved in protracted negotiations with its players on a new collective bargaining agreement. Citing increased revenues across the sport and the influx of high-priced talent from outside the MLS world, players pushed for an increase in salary and more freedom of movement between teams when a contract expires.
Jeff Carlisle of ESPN FC reported earlier on Wednesday that the MLS made a new offer to players featuring some of their desired concessions.
No word has been given on the specifics of the offer, but Carlisle reported the deal did include some sort of free agency for players. Unlike the other four major sports, MLS did not provide free agency to its players at the end of their contract. Their rights were retained within the league.
The offer to include free agency was said to be highly restricted to veteran players, most of whom would be past their prime by the time they had a chance to hit the open market. It's unclear if the formal agreement includes the owners' free-agency proposal or some compromise the two sides agreed to in meetings.
Regardless, the consummation of a deal is great news for a league that could have ill-afforded a work stoppage.
MLS has worked in recent years to become a more legitimate force on the international market, poaching high-profile stars from the English Premier League and Spain's La Liga—albeit largely at the end of their careers. MLS teams have also worked hard at procuring homegrown talent, most notably Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.
A stoppage threatened to undo all the work done in recent years. Instead, barring a change, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chicago Fire will take the pitch Friday night as scheduled. That's a good thing for owners and players alike.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.