MLS Players Prepared For Strike Next Season If CBA Talks Go South
MLS players are "prepared to strike" should negotiations for a new CBA "not reach a satisfactory conclusion" before the current agreement expires in January, according to Doug Roberson of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. MLSPA Exec Dir Bob Foose said, "A strike is never the goal. It’s not our goal. If we each come to the table and work hard to find common ground, I’m very confident that we can reach an agreement that will benefit both the player pool and the league." The players have been "discussing their wants for the past 18 months through thousands of phone calls, face-to-face meetings and other correspondences." Foose, speaking ahead of last night's MLS All-Star Game in Orlando, said that the league and club owners "seem willing to listen to expanding the possibility of increasing the number of charter flights." The current CBA "allows for four charter segments per team per season." He said that charter flights are the "equivalent in importance as training facilities and described them as a 'fundamental building block' to improving the league’s quality." MLS Commissioner Don Garber "didn’t sound as positive" about the possibility of chartering flights for road games. He said that the two groups "will need to discuss how to allocate a finite pool of money" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/1).
WHAT THEY WANT: ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle noted the MLSPA's goals for a new agreement include players having "more say on where they live and work, as well as a fairer system in which players can compete for dollars instead of being pigeon-holed into roster spots that have a limited range of salaries." The MLSPA will also "push for more transparency and accountability by giving the league's teams more freedom to construct rosters as they see fit, rather than requiring approval from MLS." Garber yesterday was "positive that an accord would be reached by the January deadline" (ESPN.com, 7/31).
WORST-CASE SCENARIO: PRO SOCCER USA's Julia Poe noted as MLS continues to expand and the U.S. prepares to co-host the '26 FIFA World Cup, the players feel that this year’s CBA will be its "most important negotiation to date." If it "comes down to it," the players have "created concrete plans for a strike." International players have "learned the limitations of their visas and how to get a job if necessary." Established players have "offered their homes out to rookies who might need a place to stay." Players are "actively saving funds and taking steps to ensure that, if a strike comes, everyone will be ready to wait it out" (PROSOCCERUSA.com, 7/31).
ON THE CALENDAR: In DC, Steven Goff notes next MLS season's late February start date is "about two weeks earlier" than normal. MLS "shortened the regular season by three weeks this year, a move criticized for creating an offseason too long by international standards" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/1).