By RYAN TOLMICH
It took until the 11th hour, but the 2015 MLS season will begin as scheduled.
Multiple outlets reported via Twitter on Tuesday night that MLS and the Players Union have come to terms on a Collective Bargaining Agreement, with player representative and Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando telling Reuters that a “deal is done.”
MLS confirmed that the two sides have reached an agreement in principle with press release Wednesday night.
“We are pleased to finalize the framework for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a statement. “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.”
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the two sides agreed to a five-year deal that will allow free agency to players who are both over 28 years of age and have eight years of MLS experience. Salary increases will be capped for free agent players, as those making under $100,000 have a cap of a 125 percent increase of their prior salary, players making between $100-200,000 have a cap of 120 percent and players making more than $200,000 have a cap of 115 percent.
In addition, the new CBA will include a raise of the minimum salary to $60,000, a figure expected to increase incrementally during the years of the deal. Finally, there will also be an immediate raise in the salary cap, although no specific figure has been released.
“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the league,” said Bob Foose, Executive Director of the MLS Players Union. “We are pleased to finally turn our fans attention back to our players and the competition on the field as we get started on the 2015 season.”
Not all teams are happy with the terms of the agreement, however. According to Goal.com, many players were unhappy with the final deal and player representatives from seven teams — Sporting Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, the New York Red Bulls, the Montreal Impact, FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids — voted against it.
Still, a resolution has been agreed upon. Talks had become contentious in recent days, as the two sides continued to negotiate over the players’ rights to free agency. Frustration reportedly reached a head on Tuesday, as negotiations continued late into the night before ending on a sour note.
Discussions resumed Wednesday morning, however, and led to the deal being struck early in the evening.
As a result, the MLS season will start as scheduled beginning with Friday’s match between the Chicago Fire and defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy.
What do you think of the news? Excited for the season to get under way? Who do you think got the better end of the deal?
Share your thoughts below.