By DAN ITEL
Major League Soccer’s regular season opening day may go on without its referees if a labor deal isn’t reached by the weekend.
Commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday that the league has a plan in place to play games if the referee’s union, the Professional Soccer Referee Association, fails to reach a deal with the Professional Referee Organization, the body created by the U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS in 2012 to manage game officials in U.S. and Canadian professional leagues.
“We will be opening up this weekend with referees, and we are absolutely in a position to have a contingency plan in the event that those discussions don’t end positively,” Garber said Tuesday in an online Q-&-A session. “We have so many things that we’re gearing up for with our 2014 season. Nothing is going to stop us from having a strong opening and to continue to grow this league.”
The PSRA has filed a pair of unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board’s New York office, accusing the PRO of bad-faith bargaining and making threats against PSRA members. PSRA members voted 64-1 last month to authorize an unfair labor practice strike.
Here are some more stories to get you caught up on news from around the league:
VANCOUVER ANNOUNCE SIGNING OF MORALES AS THIRD DP
The Vancouver Whitecaps kept up their busy offseason with the announcement Wednesday that they have signed Chilean midfielder Pedro Morales on a free transfer from La Liga side Málaga CF pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
Morales, officially signed as the team’s third Designated Player following reports earlier this week that the 28-year-old would be joining the club, has four goals in 22 league appearances with Málaga over the past two seasons. He previously played with Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb, scoring 26 games in 87 league, UEFA Champions League and Europa League appearances.
“Pedro is an exciting attacking player and we are thrilled to have him join our club,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said in a statement. “He is a natural No. 10 who will bring a creative flare to our attack and is someone the supporters will enjoy watching.”
His acquisition comes on the heals of the ‘Caps trade for former Toronto FC midfielder Matías Laba as a Designated Player. Scottish international striker Kenny Miller occupies the third DP slot, but his contract expires in June.
RAPIDS ANNOUNCE SIGNING OF MIDFIELDER JOSE MARI
With the departure of defensive midfielder Hendry Thomas to FC Dallas, the Colorado Rapids needed a replacement.
They found one with the signing Tuesday of José Mari, a 26-year-old midfielder with eight years of experience in Spain. He’ll be eligible pending receipt of his P-1 work visa and international transfer certificate.
“José Mari is a talented player with a deep understanding of the game and a lot of technical ability,” Rapids technical director Paul Bravo said in a release. “We’ve had a chance to see him in action throughout preseason and believe he is a good fit for our squad, bringing a great deal of experience and skill. We’re thrilled to officially welcome him to the team.”
He originally joined Colorado earlier this preseason.
Houston Dynamo defensive leader Jermaine Taylor is rounding into form as he continues his recovery from a foot injury that kept him out of the MLS Cup Playoffs last year.
Real Salt Lake will be without forwards Robbie Findley and Devon Sandoval for their regular season opener Saturday against the L.A. Galaxy, while defender Chris Shuler is questionable.
What do you think of these developments. Post your comments below.