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MLS and players union address latest strike talk

As you would expect, Major League Soccer responded to recent comments from players about the state of MLS labor negotiations, as well as a report of a vote in favor of a strike. And as you would expect, the players union responded to that response.

Here is MLS president Mark Abbott, speaking to SBI:

"The meetings this week were productive and we have scheduled a number of additional meetings.

"The players comments do not accurately reflect the proposals that we have made to address the players concerns or the productive nature of the discussions beteween MLS and the union."

Here is the response from Players Union chief Bob Foose via a written release:

“Recent comments from players simply reflect the fact that the players are unified and, per the results of our strike vote, will not begin the new season if a new agreement with the league is not reached.  This is not a change in position by the Union and should not be read to reflect in any way upon what has, or has not, occurred this week in the meetings with the mediator and the league.”


What does it mean? It would seem as though there has been some benefit drawn from the mediated negotiations this week, but that didn't stop the players union from conveniently leaking word of the union's willingness to strike. Clearly a calculated move, just not sure whether it needed to come now.


  1. MLS PLAYERS/UNION REPS if anyone is reading this… here is a humble suggestion from a fan… regarding facts as reported by SA (article: Players near-unanimous on strike action) the players want guaranteed contracts, free agency, and unilateral options. The League wants to control costs. The players unanimously do not want to start the season w/o a CBI. MAY I MAKE A SUGGESTION TO ALL PARTIES if anyone is reading this? WHY NOT put on the table a compromise CBI that gives the players some of what they want BUT DOES NOT TAKE EFFECT FOR TEN YEARS. Now, many people might react and say, “That’s ridiculous.” But, think about it. Garber won’t even be Commissioner when this hypothetical CBA would take effect. It would happen on someone else’s watch. It would make it easy for someone like Garber to agree to it. The crop of players would not benefit, but, they would have MADE A CHANGE that ONE DAY would happen. Please pass my humble suggestion along to anyone who may benefit by it. Thank you.

  2. Where do you live? I make 35k a year and I’m barely making it living in NJ. These players are professional athletes that risk their quality of life if they get injured playing a game for our entertainment. Pay them accordingly. 35k a year for less than 2 years of service minimum and 50k a year for more than 2 but less than 4 years of service. Then become free agents. Let the teams own the contracts. Bigger the market the more money to spend. No need for parity.

  3. Even though I “sounds like an undeducated Brit,” I in fact was born in Detroit and now live in New York City.

    Does NYC qualify as an MLS city?

    Hmmm. Have you seen a Red Bull game recently?

  4. John Godfrey, you do realize that every Euro league not part of the big 4/5 of EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, and France to some extent, are also feeder leagues and in the same position as MLS?

    Also, MLS is NOT NCAA level football. You sounds like an undeducated Brit. The quality of football in MLS is much better than you or they give it credit for. is it top level EPL quality, no? Could the MLS champ go through an EPL and not get relegated? Probably yes, true they’d be fighting it the entire way.

    But it’s not like MLS is on level with the 3rd or 4th division in England, on average it is likely equal to the Championship. And the top 8 Championship sides can give the bottom half EPL sides all they want and more.

    I’m not saying this is true of the entire MLS but it is likely true of the top teams in the league.

    I don’t know if you live in a city that has an MLS team but you are the type of fan MLS needs. Soccer fans who spend their Saturdays watching Euro soccer should come out and support their MLS teams. This is not the mid 90s when quality was sub-par. MLS teams compete extremely well with Mexican teams (no Mexico is not a top rate league but it is a good league that has been around much, much, much longer than MLS), the All-Star opponents and Euro teams that play summer friendlies vs. MLS have positive things to say about MLS players and our growth and development, etc.

    I’ve been to the NCAA college final 4 at FC Dallas’s stadium, and those teams were pretty poor in comparison to a even a bad FCD team.

    The league is young and simply can not afford to have a huge salary cap, not be a single-entity, and unrestricted free agency, it just won’t work.

    Oh yeah, they better get this CBA worked out, strike would be very stupid by the players. Owners do need to give on the out-of-contract issue and have some limited free agency within reason, but the players need to accept the single-entity concept as that will never change, or at least not for a very, very, very long time.

  5. Elaborate? Happily.

    The world has changed. Thanks to broadband technology and fiber optics, I have 50+ soccer matches to choose from each weekend. MLS is competing DIRECTLY with the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, etc…not to mention MLB, NFL and the NBA.

    That’s the universe MLS competes in for eyeballs.

    And due to its hard-line stance on free agency, single-entity status and salary caps, MLS is not attracting the sort of talent that allows it to compete with the top leagues in the world. I watch 4-5 EPL matches I watch each week. Not to mention the Champions League and Europa League matches I support. Having been burned countless times, I no longer watch MLS matches.

    Why? Because the top players aren’t willing to come here until their careers are all but over (Beckham aside; he has other motives). And our up-and-coming US talent can’t wait to get out. What that leaves us with is a league of Alan Gordons and 35+ retreads from Europe who want an easy paycheck and a few endorsement deals.

    So. What if MLS focused on putting forth a great product? Great players with real talent would be the emphasis — not this cost-cutting-based approach to hiring the cheapest guy you can get, whoever it may be.

    That way, fans like me who are OBSESSED with soccer will buy tickets, watch games and support the league.

    Until that happens, however, forget it.

    I won’t pay to watch an NCAA-level product.

  6. Exactly. Another problem with this league is that for every Stuart Holden making $34k/yr there’s an Israel Sesay making $102k/yr. Anyone remember Leonid Krupnik, who made $144k last season for playing three games with the New York Red Bulls? It may suck to be an MLS player that is making less than $40k, but the league has many overpaid and underplayed players who aren’t worth it.

  7. As others posted. This is all about contract freedom and players getting a bit more say in the whole process. I hope they get a bit more freedom.

    I hope the players realize that there really is not much money in MLS. Sure there are some players like Blanco, Beckham, Donovan, Ljundberg and a few others that make millions but they are also selling points for the league, they bring in more fans and money. Especially a Beckham or Blanco.

    Also, MLS needs to get a sponsor……..

  8. I bet that many of the players good find jobs that pay more than 30k. Especially those that have college degrees. If not then they will just go finish their college degrees or maybe go to grad school.

  9. BB would make 2 more C team friendlies against cuba and panama before the Turkey game and see what they could do. Bornstein, Ching, and Findley would star and start in S.A.

  10. Maybe I am reading too much into the statements, they sounded positive.

    But if they are positive and I were a player rep, I would tell my players make a few statements that are angry sounding, we are getting close, we just need on final push.

    Probably just wishful thinking. Last night’s ugly game cannot be the way it ends. A loss to the Timbers ? My life sucks enough already.

  11. well, it was true, and I commend you for being one of the few people who tries to point out that the argument is less about overall money, since I think those college educated players are smart enough to realize that soccer here isn’t a cash cow like the other major pro sports, and more about labor freedom.

    I’m also tired of people trying to compare guaranteed contracts to regular jobs. People say that in a regular job, if you don’t perform, you can get fired, which is obviously true. But they forget that in a regular job, if you can go make more money somewhere else, or if you hate your workplace, you can do that. Right now contracts are in a sense guaranteed, but only in one direction. Owners have a guarantee that the players have to stay if the owners want them too, no matter how well they’re playing even if the player made a mistake for signing for so little, but players have no guarantee that they will be able to stay even if the owners made a mistake for signing them for too much. How is that like a real job?

  12. Just turned on the local news in Philly and the first story I hear is about the pending strike. Now if they can only cover the issues…

  13. The strike vote means one thing. The players are unified in their stance that they are willing to threaten a strike in an attempt to leverage a deal. It is posturing, period. No strike, no lock out. Maybe…. maybe a strike could go a week, before someone caves, but even that would be stupid. The league is too young and poor to handle it. It’s suicide. With continuing growth and more revenue the players rights and $$ will increase significantly in the long run.


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