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RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen labels free agency a ‘waste-of-time discussion’

Dell Loy Hansen Real Salt Lake 22

Photo by Chris Nicoll/USA Today Sports


Free agency has been a main sticking point for MLS players throughout their Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with the league, but there’s at least one team owner that thinks those conversations are pointless.

Real Salt Lake’s Dell Loy Hansen came out and issued some strong words as to why he thinks free agency will not come to MLS in 2015, telling radio station ESPN 700 on Wednesday that the single-entity structure of the league does not make it feasible.

“There’s some great agreement that everyone can reach, but every time I read, ‘We’re going to work on free agency,’ well, that’s kind of one of those real waste-of-time conversations,” Hansen told the RSL-owned station. “I think everyone’s very intense on (agreeing to a deal). I know that the league and the owners are seriously looking at that.”

MLS players have said they are united in their desire to want more freedom in determining where they end up during the offseasons, and are adamant that they will strike if necessary. Hansen, however, believes that the players should move on from making free agency a main sticking point and focus on other things they want.

“I think there’s some really fair offers that have come from the league,” said Hansen. “The perennial issue is, ‘We want free agency,’ but that can’t exist where everyone’s employed by the same employer. How do you have free agency when you’re going to go talk to yourself at the next employer?

“That’s not going to change. That’s a go-nowhere conversation. When you look at all the owners, they’ve all been in pro basketball, football, baseball, and that was the one thing they all vowed they’d never do is go through that again.”


What do you make of Hansen’s comments? Agree with him? Should MLS begin working towards eliminating the single-entity structure? Is the league destined for a lockout?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. “Free agency can work in the single entity context as long as it is about player location rather than about creating a bidding war for a better salary. Any large corporation with nationwide offices has employees transfer from one office to another without it effecting who signs the paycheck or how much they get paid.” — Adam M.

    suppose i am a player. i sign a contract with mls for a salary of X dollars. now my contract is up and i’m a FA. now, i’m talking to several clubs, deciding my next move. sure, some cities are better than others. but, i need playing time, so, smaller cities are also attractive to me. i make my choice and i sign a new contract with mls in the city that i chose. i make a little more money now, but not too much, because a hard salary cap was put into the last cba simultaneously when FA was added. at our union meetings, we don’t talk about suing mls (much) anymore, because basically now we are all pretty happy with our current working conditions.

    how’s that?

  2. At last! Somebody has articulated something that makes sense to me. Are the players really willing to strike to get something they already have?

    IBM would not allow employees to negotiate with different departments for the highest salary. If an employee wants a higher salary they can go to work for Oracle, Microsoft, Google, etc.

    MLS players already have many more free agency opportunities than any worker at IBM. I have no idea what the players union is thinking here. The world is their oyster, if they are good enough.

  3. Free agency with a salary cap takes away any financial risk. The problem for owners is that they can have a great player and unless they have an offer from Europe (unlikely), they don’t have to pay them their worth. That’s ridiculous. Anyways, MLS is to the point where most teams wouldn’t have any trouble finding someone to buy the team and would accept free agency. I hope the players walk because they are basically indentured servants at this point. I can wait a month for MLS to start.

  4. These comments make it clearer than ever that this has nothing to do with stability or growth or other good things. It’s about control and risk aversion. These owners have it good and they want to keep it that way. Breaking up the single entity would reveal which ones are competent and which ones are fools. They’d prefer to keep hiding behind the single entity.

  5. I’m not sure why Hansen decided he had to speak on the issue, i guess he drew the shortest straw at the owners meeting. Inspite of what what his comments may lead you to think RSL does a great job taking care of its players. One of their mission statements is do right by the players. That is why Borchers is in Portland not NYCFC. RSL knew they couldn’t protect him during the expansion draft and asked him where he would llike to play and then made it happen for him. That is also why Plata is doing so much better here than he was in Canada, the RSL culture is to take care of our guys. Even Salcedo got to go where he wanted even though the he and his agent made a mess out of the deal. That is not to say that they haven’t traded players that wanted to stay but that happens in any sport. It is the clubs that are run by committee that we needed to watch out for, the likes of Chivas now gone and nycfc, in which the league and its players are just toy to them.

  6. Within large corporations, different departments often bid for an employee’s services, in an attempt to get that employee to work for their department. Single Entity + Free Agency exists in the real world.

    The owners fears have everything to do with fear of legal challenges to the Single Entity system.

  7. Three thoughts about MLS as Single Entity

    In the first 20 years, Single Entity made sense for both the players and the owners b/c it allowed for growth, improvement and more spots for US players in MLS.

    But now, new owners like NYCFC and Orlando FC aren’t going to want to allow all the other owners to control their soccer fortunes/futures – look at the NYCFC debacle over “signing” or “loaning” Lampard from NYCFC to ManCity – oh wait – MLS didn’t really sign him to a contract.

    The players can bring Single Entity to an end if they strike and force/bait the owners to lock them out – lawsuit to follow – b/c US law pertains to US companies in the US … saying that players can sign contracts anywhere in the world they want misses the legal point – players who want to play Division 1 soccer in the US have no where else to play in the US b/c MLS is the ONLY US Div1 league – which makes MLS an illegal monopoly.

    for a look at the league-a-lese

    • The lawsuit comment is a joke. “The players that want to play D1 soccer ” don’t exist as a class. The court will not distinguish between D1 and D2 or any other division for that matter. You are a soccer player and you have a choice. Play for MLS or play in some other leage, here in the US or international, it doesn’t matter but the choices are out there. Saying you are a D1 player only is like saying that you are a McDonalds cook only and they cant control your work environment or even send you to a different location if they choose to. As a McDonald’s cook you can always go to Burger King and as a MLS player you can alway head to ths USL if you think things are better over there. It is a crappy deal for the players but i promise you that the one’s that are complaining about this make more than you and most of the whiners are right up there with their 1% owners. I have a hard time feeling sympathetic towards either side.

  8. And what I mean is first US Soccer becomes something I cannot support… Then MLS.

    Just about done with soccer in the US. Never ever thought I could be brought to say that. My hope is fading hardcore.

  9. Well, first Klinsmann now MLS. I guess it’s time to start supporting the Premiere League.

    I’ve just about lost all interest if these are the people running the league. CFG has more power than MLS. And, MLS owners are not ones I can continue to get behind. They talk from both sides of their mouths.

  10. We’ve heard the answer before. “All players are signed by the league”. End of story. Seattle doesn’t sign players and nycfc doesn’t sign players. There is one employer in MLS. free agency simply doesn’t make sense. I think that’s what Hansen meant.

    Hansen sounds like a republican! He probably hates LBGT people too. Get the pitch forks!

    • Stephen, the article post you put in, it starts out with the author calling the owners illogical, pigheaded, and I think shortsighted. Are we reading the same article?

  11. What a sad state of affairs for MLS. To think that free agency isn’t going to happen is such a disappointment. I know this is a young league compared to other leagues in this country but for a player not being able to move to another club once their contract is up is archaic. What a joke.

  12. Got to love his honesty when he says he wishes the other sports didn’t have pesky free agency either. These rich dolts love the single entity structure so much, it gives them all the advantages and artificial cost controls they love.

    MLS’s entire single entity design is an illusion and likely wouldn’t survive a legal challenge to that structure, and that is the union’s final gambit here, they wont sign a deal and operate without a CBA somehow giving them standing to challenge MLS in court and destroy their single entity staus. Remember, in Fraiser, the court left open the question of whether MLS was a true single entity business. That to me seems like a much bigger threat to them than free agency..

    • Correct

      But that kind of legal challenge will be monumentally expensive. They just can’t do it. Remember – last time asround they had the NFL players union and their wallet.

      I would love to see some wealthy outsiders cause some trouble with this

  13. Let’s be honest, most of all MLS owners don’t know about soccer and they don’t know, there’s million of soccer players out there in the world that go to leagues because of free agency.
    MLS needs a reality check and if not, NASL or ligaMX will keep growing.
    By the way, What’s is RSL owner thinking, spend that money on your stadium for RSL.
    Take your stadium to the next level, and your stadium will be hell for all visiting teams. Doesn’t he even know that? Does he know about soccer?
    Take your stadium to the next level sir! make it like red bull or skc stadium, close the other end where you have the stage and put a real roof cover.
    Who cares about the scenery of the mountains,you can’t even see it and you don’t play in salt lake Or downtown.
    I guaranteed if you take your stadium to the next level, this will be the toughest stadium to play in. The fans feel like there on top of you and they love their team, and the monarchs can play at a college stadium.
    But seriously, spend those $20 million on your stadium and that might make you the best stadium home advantage in the west, ahead of timbers and sounders and might be the best home advantage in MLS, ahead of skc.

    • Bro, since we’re talking reality checks:

      More potential owners are trying to get into the MLS than the NASL.
      LigaMX’s growth has nothing to do with MLS’s success nor it’s failures.

      Just sayin’

  14. The players should be quiet and just be grateful for what I, the Lord thy Don, hath given them. They are lucky to be paid at and all and even luckier to bask in my glory.

  15. I think the owners, and the heads of the MLS remember the old NASL days. the boom to bust is in the back of the minds of the owners, and those fans that remember. Soccer today in this country is ahead of that time, but a repeat of those failures, it weights heavy. I thought this RSL owner made some points. he wants to negotiate and give concessions to the players. that sounds like a players owner.

    the players need to sit back and worry about one thing, and that is winning. one thing is for sure, players would have more leverage if they had a couple, or one concacaf championship on their resume. montreal gave up a two goals lead, lets see what DCU does tonight.

    • Many great American companies no longer exist because they were paralyzed by fear of failure. It seems to me that MLS has forgotten that they are in the entertainment industry. I’m fairly certain that happy entertainers do better at their jobs than entertainers with a gripe against their overlords. MLS policy manual needs continual reform to ensure that there will be no stagnation preventing their implementation of the best practices to yield the best performances of their property.

      These Unreformed policies leads to institutionalization. Institutions eventually lose their loyal supporter base by their lack of reform, innovation and general sense of a lack of progress. I.e. The Chrstian church, Boy Scouts of America, and many more institutions that are in decline! Read the tea leaves Don…or prepare for a date equal to the former NASL that you fear.

      • Gosh 2 stepper, are you saying that MLS has improved over the years, or is in decline? I’ve been under the impression that the league has been improving over the years. It has been improving, and it has been growing.

        Did you feel that way with the old NASL, that it was steadily improving, and slowly growing? Actually, I think MLS has grown pretty fast in recent years.

      • 2 stepper, do you find a contradiction in belittling the Christian church, and Boy Scouts of America, two institutions, that are foundations of our country, meanwhile Islam is the fastest growing religion. Are you scratching your head?

  16. This strikes me as a dumb comment from the owner on several levels. You would think he would want to work to find common ground on what he well knows is the most important issue for the players. Or you would think that he would at least want to appear like he wants to find common ground. All this “drawing lines in the sand” stuff (from both sides) is hopefully just posturing, if not then the league is in trouble.

    The owners should find a way to explain to the players why true free agency is not possible in the single-entity (if that’s their stance). Then come up with some kind of partial substitute that helps the main issue of the players, that they have no say at all where they play. Maybe a one-time trade veto power for veterans that have played a certain # of years, or some kind of “relocation package” if a trade happens to help move the families.

    This seems like a critical point for the league, with the new tv deals, the new dps, and some real excitement and momentum. A strike now could be devastating for everyone.

  17. MLS is well within it’s rights to be single entity, to be anti-free agency and to promote a culture that limits spending/investment.

    The question is why does US Soccer unquestioningly grant them the privilege of Division 1 status without so much as a peep?

    A real fed truly devoted to growing the game in this country would at least pretend to provide some sort of oversight.

    “The financial success of MLS owners” is not always the same as “what’s good for American soccer”

    • This is what I have been wondering for quite some time. Sunil is an economics professor and surely he could weigh in on the long term prospectus of MLS under this system. There is no way an Econ guy could so blindly sign off on the current state of MLS and concur that they will reach top ten status with the arcane rules at work.

  18. More proof that having a lot of money doesn’t make you smart. MLS can readily accommodate free agency. There’s no real legal problem, as any number of commentators have pointed out. If MLS wanted to operate with free agency, under existing law it could. What might be difficult is the players using the courts to force MLS to accept free agency but even that seems possible, if not likely.
    As long as the league has a salary cap, there is no financial reason not to have free agency. How much more protection from their own stupid instincts do the owners want? No one put a gun to their head to allow designated players and to pay them grossly inflated salaries. Would free agency and a salary cap mean that the league might lose more players to overseas leagues? Maybe, but that’s largely a function of the quality of MLS players? Would some MLS teams be able to forego a youth program and simply poach good young players from other teams? Yes, but again, the players shouldn’t have to suffer because the owners can’t control themselves.

    • The legal path has already been tried and failed in 2002. See Fraser v Major League Soccer.

      In regards to your comment “As long as the league has a salary cap, there is no financial reason not to have free agency. How much more protection from their own stupid instincts do the owners want?” Please see my pathetic Miami Dolphins who offered Mike Wallace a massively inflated contract. There are countless other examples in the NFL. These contracts came about because of free agency and competing with other teams in the league.

      • Don’t know what to tell you. Do general managers in all sports make dumb decisions? You betcha. Are some of the decisions so awful as to be incomprehensible? Again, you got it.
        MLS already limits players’ pay to ridiculously low levels. Many first year players would be better off teaching PE at some middle school. Surely allowing the players to sell their talents to the highest bidder within the league is not asking much.

      • Ian, save your reason and logic for posters who care about such things. Some people just get rigid about the idea of another human asking to be paid as much as they can get. FA is certainly possible in SE. The reason the players can’t have it is because rich owner-operators do not want to share anymore of the pie than they must. The End

      • Then go teach PE?

        TX 2 Stepper: I don’t mind a person asking for more. I just mind that when the rest of the industry doesn’t value them either, they want to strike. Go ahead and hate the rich guy, you can always go work for a poor guy or build something yourself. If you build it yourself, you can make the decision to overpay average talent.

      • I truly hate reading apologists for employers who essentially are defending the right to restrict employees by limiting negotiating power. Even with free agency the employers have the ability to choose not to hire or pay. Your argument about overpaying average talent is a strawman at best.

  19. We’ve heard virtually no public comments from players these past two weeks. Somebody at the league office should put the kibosh on stupid comments by owners during this time as well. And these comments are the kind that every employee in every industry hates to hear because everyone wants to be talked TO / WITH not DOWN TO / AT.

  20. I will never watch a league that doesn’t treat their players fairly. It’s time for MLS to join the rest of the world and offer their players free agency.

    • They already are free agents. They can go play on any team anywhere in the world if a contract is offered to them. They made the decision to sign a contract with a single entity system. They knew what they were getting into.

  21. Free agency can work in the single entity context as long as it is about player location rather than about creating a bidding war for a better salary. Any large corporation with nationwide offices has employees transfer from one office to another without it effecting who signs the paycheck or how much they get paid. After a certain period of service, MLS shouldn’t force its players to stay with a club they don’t want to be at. Give the player locational free agency. Any player with say 4 years of MLS service can opt to be a free agent. The player can then sign with any MLS club that will take them at their current salary (with allowance for some modest upward adjustment) or less. If more than one MLS club wants the player under those conditions, the player decides where he wants to go. If no MLS club wants player, he cannot sign for another MLS club for two years but can sign outside MLS. MLS therefore gives players some freedom of movement within the single entity without putting the teams in an adversarial position about money.

    • This!^ A lot of us work for giant corporations with offices in multiple states. Paycheck comes from the same corporate HQ even if we opt to work for the same salary at an equivalent position in a different state. This is just common sense stuff!

    • And who is going to want to stay in Kansas City or Columbus (just examples)? How can they field a competitive team if players opt out for better cities?

      • The young player, the foreign player, the returnin veteran, et al. who needs playing time and is riding the pine in LAG, NYCFC, LA2, RBNY, SSFC, BECKHAM UNITED, AND OTHER “Hollywood-showtime” type clubs.

      • Besler and Zusi could have left KC and didn’t. Nothing forced GBS to play in Columbus all those years. And to go outside soccer, last I checked, LeBron was back in Cleveland. I think this concern in sports is overdone. New York sports teams have been horrific lately despite free agency.

  22. Firmly on the side of the players in this instance. Some degree of freedom in where one works is not only reasonable it sounds to me to be a legal right. The sham of single entity needs to end. There are other ways to control costs. Salary caps. Hard caps.
    I really want to like MLS, but it turns me off more and more. The structure needs to evolve. Has me cheering for more success for NASL teams.
    Open the market for teams and players and watch the innovation and growth. Amazing what incentive can do.

  23. Sadly MLS learns the negative stuff from MX. MX has similar system players rights belong to the team, while they’re not playing for the team.

  24. HA HA HA HA. This is heeeeelarious!

    The guy that chases off one the best coaches and one of the best GMs in the League goes on to name all the other VERY successful leagues and says there is no way we will ever want to be like them.

    Jack A$$ of epic proportions.

    I feel for Salt Lake fans. That guy will ruin the team.

  25. First of all free agency can be attained in a single entity system, look at University of California system where professors can change schools and get raises within a single entity structure. And if this owner insist that it can’t happen under single entity, maybe there shouldn’t be single entity. If I was in the players shoes I wouldn’t just strike, I would sue MLS. Being that there is already a precedent for having free agency in single entity.

    • +1, there has to be a way of allowing out of contract players to select where they sign. I get that single entity entire purpose is to keep competitive salaries down but there has to be a way to incorporate a free agency like system into the single entity structure; I do not see these things as mutually exclusive.

      • It seems like you guys think free agents can choose where they go. Someone has to offer them a contract first. People want to use the NFL & NBA as examples but in reality most “free agents” in those leagues don’t get to choose where they end up. Unless you are a well known name in the league and get multiple offers, you are most likely going to go to the one team that is willing to give you a shot. How is that really any different than the structure already in place?

      • No. Take for example my beloved wizards, there are many known quantities and unknown quantities, starters and non-starters, that had multiple offers recently in free-agency.

        As a specific example consider Kris Humphries who had interest from the Wolves, Hornets, Wizards and Celtics. The only official “offer” he may have gotten came from the Wizards, however he had interest from numerous clubs and the ability to pursue each one of the interested parties if he liked. That fundamentally different from the MLS where you re-sign with your club or get drafted and can only opening negotiations with the club that drafted you in the re-entry draft.

      • +1 for the use of “beloved”
        +1 for suffering through Wizards fandom with me
        +1 and then some for the breakdown

    • Also, look at a state that is going under financially. BTW, they have sued MLS before…and lost…twice. No business allows its people to get into bidding wars within the company. I do have a solution. Try another company. If no one wants to give you a better situation, shut up and play.

  26. @Quit Whining

    It’s not a soccer watching problem, not for me. It’s real people playing this game, and some with families, and the affects that not having any free agency at all, even in restricted form, has on real people and their families away from the pitch. It’s also an issue of good labor standards and treatment of workers, and some of us are tired of seeing labor devalued in myriad ways, wherever it may be. These are not faceless avatars just there my amusement and consumer fetish. And, from just a soccer perspective, the league will never reach its full potential with its current structure.

    Now let me ask you, why are you so quick to side with a billionaire owner and what is your soccer watching problem if there is FA in MLS? What is really eating at you?

    • Perhaps that they agreed to play a game for cash and then said, “we want new rules now.” This is not slave labor and they are not forced. There are more options outside MLS than in. Go elsewhere. I prefer a stable MLS to the free wheeling NASL that destroyed soccer in the US for years. Love how you hate the billionaire that made the MLS possible. Without him/her, you get lower salaries and quality in the other available US options. In fact, those other options have FA and pay less! Why not leave MLS and go play for them? How is labor devalued, when no one else wants to pay it more? One might argue that you over value the current labor options to the detriment of the entity that pays them. But then underachieving labor always asks for more instead of becoming worth more.

    • I don’t think Quit Whining is siding with a billionaire owner. He simply wants MLS to be successful and enjoy cheering on his team. If it’s FA then so be it but if it isn’t and the labor standard (minimum pay, higher cap etc) is raised and both sides give and get a little then MLS will keep getting better.

  27. Because, u dingbat, it should theoretically improve the player standard in the league and encourage foreign players to wet their beaks in MLS. Ur either an idiot or just trying to garner a response.

  28. I don’t get why the fans care so much. Someone tell me why free agency will solve all of your soccer watching problems, whatever they are.

    And the blog posters on this site at least, are furious about it. It seems as if player X is “forced” to play in Columbus, rather than joining NY, the universe is about to collapse on itself. I get the players want it. I get the owers don’t. I just don’t get the fans and MLS haters passionate anger over the dispute.

    • I wouldn’t say I’m passionate but I do cringe a little whenever I see a trade happen to an unsuspecting player. To get called into an office and dealt away, just like that… Call me un-patriotic but I just think players should have some say in where they play. I’ve been a close follower of MLS since 1995 (yes, pre-1996), but never understood why this league has such a desire to do things differently than the rest of the world.

      • Problem is, FA doesn’t sole that problem. What would is making each side honor contracts. If I sign you for a 3 year deal, I can’t get rid of you if you don’t want to go. You can’t leave if I don’t want you to. Now both parties need to perform due diligence prior to signing a contract. I agree that signing a player, having them move and then sending them to another team 2 months later is not a good thing.

  29. Why any middle or working class person would support an arrogant blowhard billionaire like Hansen in this instance is beyond me. I’m even more in the players camp now.

    Nice to know Hansen’s (ir)rationale is that the owners “don’t want to go through that (MLB, NBA, etc) again.” and see MLS as a therapy-revenge gig (and a tax loss carry forward scheme). Not to mention MLS will never be a “Top 10 league by 2022” if his attitude towards spending and negotiation is typical among owners.

    Hansen can get bent. I hope the players dig in and not cave to a bully like him.

  30. If we’re talking true free agency it just can’t happen in single entity. And I’m on the players’ side in this.

    The teams know each other’s cap room, allocation $$$, discovery claims, etc. The teams would be privy to information about what the competition is gonna offer, since contract offers must go through the head office. This situation is ripe for abuse — the players will think they have free agency, but it’ll be a sort of collusion.

    And with a salary cap and limits on a non-DP max contract, there’s already a major limit on movement. I think players would be dumb to strike for full free agency as it’ll never function as such in reality.

    If anything, the current “out of contract draft” situation is the best you can have.

    Finally, soccer players are not as limited in terms of their playing options as NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL players are. Soccer players can easily be “free agents” by choosing to play in Europe or elsewhere. Actually, they may make more money by going overseas.

    I just think the REALITY of free agency is much more difficult and challenging than the DREAM of free agency.

  31. In other words, shut the hell up and take what we give you. If you don’t like it go work somewhere else…..except that you can’t because we own you.

    • well, that’s one aspect where i don’t really feel bad for the players. it’s a goddamn global market. yes, if they sign with mls, they have no say in where they play, but there’s virtually unlimited options for them if they don’t want to come here or want to leave when their contract’s up. that’s not always the case for players in other sports.

      • I don’t think it’s accurate to say an average MLS player has “virtually unlimited options” as to where to ply his trade. When his contract is up, he should be able to negotiate a new one with any club that wants his services.

      • an out-of-mls-contract player can negotiate with any club in the world excepting the ~20 in mls. let’s say there are 1000(nice round number) clubs in the world–that means that those players can freely negotiate a new contract with 98% of the clubs in existence.

      • Thank you! How people gloss over this fact is baffling to me. If you want free agency, sign a shorter contract with the league and at the end of it you have the opportunity to go try and earn a contract anywhere in the world. However, if you want MLS money you have to play by MLS rules.

      • As a Revs fan, I saw Dempsey do this and it worked out for him, Parkhurst and Juan Agudelo also. Now if the MLS team makes a legit offer to the departing player, they own his rights should he come back to MLS. That was the case with Parkhurst and Agudelo. Parkhurst rights were traded but Juan came back to the Revs

      • Ok I like you now too, the owner is a douche. Hopefully he does not screw up what we have going with the squad. He says he has all this money to move and get things done. The only thing I have seen him do is buy out Plata’s contract so we have sole ownership of him. He has just got a mouth on him.

      • I’m an RSL fan and I can’t say for sure yet if Hansen is crummy owner. On one hand RSL was good last year and Hansen has moved forward with positives like a USL team (Monarchs), a sizable TV deal and he’s said he said he wants to sign a big money DP. On the other hand he hasn’t been able to keep Kries or Lagerway and the team has gone through consecutive years of player changes.

        The jury is still out on Hansen. If he does what it takes to keep RSL winning and get another MLS Cup etc. than I will be happy.

    • Hansen is just voicing the opinion of all the owners. Whether it was smart to voice that opinion is debatable but if you hate Hansen and Salt Lake City then you’ll have to hate all the owners and every city they represent because their thinking is exactly the same.

  32. “That’s a “go-nowhere” conversation. When you look at all the owners, they’ve all been in pro basketball, baseball, football, and that was the one thing they all vowed they’d never do is go through that again.”

    Exactly! I get players want freedom of movement, but the league is built around single entity from the owners perspective. They are not going to budge. Striking will not change that.

    • Free Agency doesn’t cost the owners anything unless they want to wade into the market and pay accordingly for a free agent’s services. The owners know that every minute the players spend on strike will cost them hundreds of thousands in actual operating costs as well as potential millions in lost revenue. Put whatever restrictions you want on it, but the league and owners can’t block this any longer if they want the league to continue to grow.


      • You’re delusional if you think free agency is going to happen. The lost revenue is NOTHING for these owners. A small drop in the bucket. They are playing a 50 year game and right now the costs are so low, they are willing to weather the storm and lose money if it keeps the structure they bought into intact.

      • I wonder how many of these owners make “millions” owning an MLS team? Not receive, MAKE. As in after expenses. AKA, PROFIT. They are all investing in what they hope will be a money maker. As for lost expenses? The non-player personnel will most likely be sent home without pay for the duration. Any losses will be written off. FA definitely costs owners money. Ask any owner that offered a player a contract, that player had a breakout year and then refuses to play without a new contract or getting sold. Funny, the players that don’t pan out never give any money back.

    • yep, when you see free agency in the nfl, nba, mlb, etc., it’s really obvious how much of a disaster it’s been for the owners. i don’t know about you, but i’d hate to own an nfl team–there’s no money in it!

      • Those are not single entity organizations like MLS. Free agency in a single entity format simply cannot work in its truest form. I think they will make some concessions to allow greater movement, but it will be nowhere near free agency. Plus, the players already have free agency. If they don’t want to be a part of the MLS system they are free to go to whatever league around the world they want and try and earn the best contract they can. But, if they want MLS money they have to play by MLS rules.

        I don’t see the owners budging on this and I see them being able to wait out a strike much longer than the players. Players in the other leagues were making hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars and could afford to hold out. Most players in MLS will need the money and will cross the picket line eventually.

      • Only players who can obtain a work permit are free to play in other countries around the world. Newly budding players like Gyasi Zardes who don’t have enough caps with the Nats are not free to go abroad unless they have ties to another country. On top of that, for players coming back into the league (e.g. Hercules Gomez) they are not free to choose where they play, which is why Gomez in particular hasn’t come back to the league.
        The owners won’t give free agency but surely they can do something better than the allocation draft and whatever mysterious criteria MLS uses for assigning players (Mix Diskerude getting NYC but Jermaine Jones stuck in New England?)

      • Obtaining a work permit is usually not that hard unless you are trying to go to England or one of the major European countries. There are plenty of places that are happy to grant permits to high earners (which these guys are considered in 90% of the world). These guys have the freedom to go try and play a lot of different places, but if they want MLS money, they have to play by MLS rules. They already were free agents before they decided to sign with the league and they are free agents once their contracts have ended. I really don’t see how the players have any leverage in this situation. If players want more freedom of movement then they should sign shorter contracts! It is a bet on themselves that they can get signed by a team in another league for more money and it is incredibly risky. If the players want guaranteed contracts in a league that is guaranteed to pay them (see Parma or some South American clubs), then they have to “suffer” and play within the MLS system.

        I agree a better system should be in place for returning players and it should be more transparent.

      • “Free agency in a single entity format simply cannot work in its truest form.”

        what’s this about “truest form”? true free agency in soccer doesn’t exist almost anywhere in the world, and i don’t think that’s what the players are expecting to happen in mls. however, free agency like we have here in other major sports can work in a single-entity org like mls. the owners just don’t want it, for obvious reasons.

      • Please tell this was sarcasm. My sarcasm meter is broken.

        Needless the say, the NFL is virtually printing profits.

    • Then we kill the league and start over. I’m ok with that at this point.

      The current structure kills off any real reason for the owners to invest in the the product. Competition breeds innovation and allows good management to flourish.

      Right now there is no reason to build depth. The owners will just blow money on a handful of celebrity signings that they think will bring in transient fans, (and which always will be allocated to the biggest media markets) instead of spending the same money on an actual quality product. And soccer fans in non-MLS cities will continue to ignore the league and just watch European games on TV.

      This isn’t the NFL where you have a virtual monopoly on all the good players. We have almost none of the best players, and we never will unless the teams have the independence to actually compete.

      • So there was a period that you said, don’t kill MLS…now you are ok with it ?


      • Why would the owners have any incentive to do that? The league is exactly what they want it to be and they have no reason to change. I understand the frustration as a fan, but from the owners perspective, this league is shaping up nicely. It is a good INVESTMENT! They are going to make A LOT of money one way or another on this league at some point. Why jeopardize that by breaking up the single entity structure? It simply won’t happen.

      • Exactly right. The owners own the league, not the players. Striking will accomplish nothing. The players are not dealing from a position of strength. They strike, the owners can just get other players if they want

      • I think what your driving at is pro/rel and no salary cap. Pro/rel I have no problem with but it doesn’t really work with a salary cap, in my opinion, and no salary cap is one development I don’t want to see out of MLS, ever.

        No cap allows normal business style competition which in sports innately will favor larger markets and clubs which can spend more on salaries (don’t believe me just go read Soccernomics, there is direct linear correlation between weekly wages at a club and their finishing position in all European leagues). The very idea of having the same four clubs fighting for a title ever year while the rest clean up the scraps disgusts me. Some people dismiss this as a hard truth, a reality of a functioning system. I find this to be the antithesis of competition.

        Free agency with a hard cap and a minimum percentage of the cap (ideally close to 90% or above) is the truest form of competition, in my opinion. It levels the playing field and then asks the teams to go find foreign, domestic and academy talent to build the best team possible. The devil is in the details the hard cap needs to be high enough and thus the league needs to continue to grow revenue so that per club spending on wages is on par with or at least close to that in Europe.

        We don’t need to blow up the system, we need significant reform though. Free agency much like NHL, NFL or NBA, and no wonky rules on foreign player acquisition. Let the teams compete for foreign talent, sure it will drive up their costs, but its change that has to happen for the MLS to be more open, transparent and fair.

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