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MLS, players' union reach deal, avert strike

Five days before the season opener, MLS and the players' union have struck a deal on a new, five-year collective bargaining agreement. The players had threatened to strike if a new pact couldn't be reached this weekend. With approximately 25 players participating, the sides met all day and night Thursday and Friday at the offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington, and announced the deal this afternoon.

The players' primary issue was free agency, and although they were not granted full rights to move between clubs in the league, they did agree to a "re-entry draft" for those out of contract at the end of the season.

"Going forward, we are going to have a real relationship with the league as opposed to being combative at times, and that's crucial for any league to do well," Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan said. "We have been extremely unified and united throughout this process. It's been a very productive few weeks. We are all mainly excited to play soccer this year and proud of what we accomplished. This is not a one-day celebration; this is the start of many good things to come for many years for our players and our league."

According to union chief Bob Foose:
*For the first time, a majority of players will have guaranteed contracts.
*The players' ability to move freely within the league will be greatly improved.
*Player compensation will be increased substantially.

Further details were not immediately revealed. The sides said it will take a while to finalize specifics and make them available to the public. Rest assured, it's a done deal.

"This has been a major victory for the process of collective bargaining," federal mediator George Cohen said.

"It was not fun, it was tiring, but it was productive," Commissioner Don Garber said. "I look forward to not having to do it quite like this in five more years."

For more info.....

Free agency was not adopted, as the players had hoped, but the sides did compromise.

Said Garber: "MLS was founded on the principle that our owners would not be keeping against each other for player services. When we think of free agency, it is that concept of internal bidding, and there will not be internal bidding for player services. Players whose options are not exercised, players who are terminated and players at a certain age - and just respect the fact that we have got to get this out to our own people before we get it to the public - will have the opportunity with a certain mechanism of also going into this re-entry draft. That process addresses, to a large extent but not to the total extent, the players' wishes and desires. At the same time, it provides the league with something that is crucial to us and will remain crucial to us. In our view, there is no actual free agency."

Added Foose: "We made progress on this area. Not necessarily as much as we would have chosen, but that is collective bargaining agreement. We made a lot of progress in other areas as well, and there is real progress on correcting certain situations that were vitally important to our players involving movement within the league, including teams retaining rights to players. There are changes there, significant changes."

By Steve Goff  |  March 20, 2010; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Positive signs in MLS labor dispute
Next: D.C. United wins Carolina Cup



(hope the players actually got something but)


Posted by: UnitedDemon | March 20, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: asnoel | March 20, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

YEEHAH! Best news I've heard in a long time.

Posted by: danboleo | March 20, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Really curious what the players got and what the new cap is

Posted by: strago | March 20, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Great news.

Hopefully the players got some improved conditions and the league can still continue to grow on a solid footing.

I thought they might just be staying late in those meeting to watch the college basketball tournament but they must have been doing some actual negotiating!

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 20, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

GREAT NEWS!!!!! Also, I am going to need those other details asap. Thanks

Posted by: gplocher | March 20, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Great news! Let the games BEGIN!

Posted by: Modibo | March 20, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Nice news. Now I can actually start getting excited for the upcoming season.

Oh and if anyone was wondering, my post in German from yesterday was a recipe for egg-less cookies. Recipe's titled "The Eggs of Satan" and can be found on the album ├ćnima.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 20, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Hip..Hip..Hooray!! Thank you!! Soccer will live on in the USA! Let's start the season! Whoo hoo!

Posted by: UnitedFanInTX | March 20, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

How upset do you think Donovan is with this news?

Posted by: rss317 | March 20, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

YES!! im himmel gibts kein bier, drum trinken wier es hier!! (sorry, back with the german. i am going to drink beer with some eggs of satan to celebrate the new agreement...)

Posted by: birdynumnum | March 20, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't know whether I'll be impressed or mortified if I find out Poopy McPoop's Eggs of Satan convinced both sides they needed to reach agreement.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 20, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

This makes me much more interested in tonight's United game. I had been thinking of watching the Santos game.
Does anyone know if D.C.'s game is going to be streamed again tonight?

Posted by: ratco | March 20, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what nonsensical "re-entry draft" they've come up with now. Knowing these guys, am sure it'll be something convoluted that no ordinary fan will understand. Anyway, good to hear they averted a strike.

Posted by: tundey | March 20, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

i doubt the players ever intended to actually strike but it looks like they struck just the right amount of fear in the owners to get them to acquiesce to a certain degree.

Posted by: papple | March 20, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

best news in a long time!!!

Posted by: mbyrd28 | March 20, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

It wouldn't surprise me if both sides here saw the egg-less cookie recipe and decided it was time to finally iron out a deal, and celebrate said with, what else, egg-less cookies.

If anyone actually wants the recipe just type "Die Eier Von Satan" into google. The cookies are pretty good too.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 20, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

@raco -- Toronto is streaming both games. TFC-RSL first. I think at 5.

Posted by: fischy | March 20, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Workers of the World Unite!
(that was for you JoeDoc)

Great, now let's take the TREBLE!


Posted by: delantero | March 20, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I can wait about 3 1/2 years for most of the details on the new CBA. That is about when both sides will probably start posturing again. Cap and roster size is the only thing I care about now.

Posted by: csd1 | March 20, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse


Good to know, especially on the day after my season tix arrive. Npw if they could just explain what a "re-entry draft" is.... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | March 20, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, fischy.

Posted by: ratco | March 20, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Now we can be confident in Curious' daily countdown.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 20, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

How many days til DCU's first match again?

Posted by: dccal | March 20, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

This is a great day, and I'll explain why:

A) A deal is done. I was never rooting for the players or the management, just for a deal to be done, and it has been. GREAT news.

B) I'm in Charleston. I get to see the team play tonight, and I'm optimistic. Also, the weather is PERFECT.

C) Walking around today, I ran into Dwayne De Rosario, Juian de Guzman, and Jim Brennan. I had my United jersey shirt on, and nodded to them as I walked past, and then Brennan says, "You know you couldn't wear that around Toronto." I turned and said, "Well thank goodness I'm not." We all laughed and I wished them good luck. Seemed like really nice guys. Who knew Canadians would be so nice?

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | March 20, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

See everybody at RFK in two weeks...!

Posted by: rademaar | March 20, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

7 days until United's first match!

You doubted me???

Posted by: Curious99 | March 20, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Me too.

Posted by: Curious99 | March 20, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if there's an "out" clause where, say, if the USMNT does well this summer, there's a huge increase in fan interest and (monetary) support of MLS, that the players can call for an early start to negotiations for a new contract.

At the same time, I wonder if pigs could fly... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | March 20, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

"Major League Soccer" is the 5th highest trend on yahoo right now.

"NCAA Basketball Tournament" is 9th.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | March 20, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

This at least dispels the facist vibe that the administration was giving off. That might sound a little extreme, but according to this simple definition:

A political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition...

is appropriate. I understand how difficult it is to keep MLS alive, but it has to be able to change or the battle might not be worth the result.

Anyway, cheers!

Posted by: UnitedDemon | March 20, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Reentry draft: What you don't want to feel on the back of your neck when you are landing the space shuttle.

Posted by: dccal | March 20, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

No matter what the scores, who wins what - we have a season to enjoy and discuss

Its just brilliant :)) very happy

Posted by: londonboy | March 20, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Having been through several all-night bargaining sessions, I really can empathize with both sides. For the union guys, your guts churn, you wonder if you've achieved enough, you wonder if your sleep deprived mind is playing tricks on you. At the end of the day, both sides realized they had gone as far as they could go without warfare and clearly, neither side wanted that. Congratulations to labor and management and to George Cohen for keeping the train on the tracks. See you at RFK on the 3rd.

Posted by: griffin1108 | March 20, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I think a strike would have been a huge step backwards, so this is amazing news

Posted by: carmines757 | March 20, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

Posted by: dcarmy | March 20, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey Powerboater, I did go ahead and take your lockout prediction to the bank, as you said we should about a month ago -- can I have the bank just call you directly about this?

Posted by: fallschurch1 | March 20, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Now that life is returning to normal does anyone have a link for a feed to tonight's game at Charleston? I believe kickoff is at 730.

Can't wait to go back to complaining about lazy overpaid players and miserly tightfisted owners during an actual game!


Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 20, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

"*Player compensation will be increased substantially."

Details please!

Posted by: florifischetti | March 20, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Jesus, Allah, Buddah, Rostifari, Mother Nature (in no particular order) and any other God or God-like entity.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | March 20, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

This is great news. Both sides deserve credit, but I'm especially impressed with the players for making a deal when what they most wanted wasn't on the table.

Posted by: hungrypug | March 20, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

The aspec ratio for this Red Bulls v Santos game is messed up...

Posted by: StewartDC8 | March 20, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I have a question of a different sort:

Was the eggless cookie recipe in compensation for overegging the pudding?

Now, MLS, I want to see some quality soccer this season...I hope the Crew's efforts against Toluca, while falling a little short, are a taste of things to come within the overall league!

Let's get ready to RUMBLE! :)

Posted by: SportzNut21 | March 20, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

"George Lucas will throw the ball in. No, no the film maker, the soccer player!"
Oh FSC...

Red Bulls are up 1-0..

Posted by: StewartDC8 | March 20, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

yes for mls

Posted by: gpoi | March 20, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

My TV isn't working. The score reads NY 3-0 SAN

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 20, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

The United will be playing as scheduled and we are all delighted with the news but there are still several teams in severe financial distress including Chicago and the new franchise in Philly. Following the last expansion there is still a risk that the league will lose a team in the next year. But today is a day to celebrate that the 2010 season will be intact and not to worry about the future.

To the poster who questioned whether the players were serious about a srike, not only where they ready but those on the margins were making plans for their future after pro soccer.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | March 20, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

PowerMoaner backtracks.

NY looked fantastic tonight.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | March 20, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Yes, PB, we already remember that you guaranteed a lockout, too.

Posted by: Reignking | March 20, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Saturday July 10

DC United @ Red Bulls

or Hope Solo and Lori Chalupny visiting Freedom at the SoccerPlex

Posted by: OWNTF | March 20, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Taped and now watching Red Bulls friendly. Don't care about score or match, just watching for the stadium and it's spectacular. Good thing the "Eurosnobs" built that one.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 20, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Are you poking us in the eye with "The United" or just showing us you are still clueless? I vote for the latter.

Posted by: spata2 | March 20, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Just got back from Blackbaud.

For those of you not keeping tabs, United won 2-0, both Moreno goals in the first half. First a great flick header to the back post, and the second a penalty (which he chipped in) in first half stoppage time.

Lots of fun. For some reason, I feel more optimistic after that game than I did last years'.

And how bout Northern Iowa, huh?

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | March 20, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Also, in pregame warmups, I asked Ben Olsen if it was still awkward, he said, "Yeah, a little. I think I'll figure it out though."

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | March 20, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but where have you all eaten in Charleston?

Posted by: Reignking | March 20, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

This cat Ibrahim Salou with NYRB looks like the real deal . . .

Posted by: OWNTF | March 20, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

In MlS vs Fraser, the league convinced the court that MLS was not a single entity simply to suppress the players' wages and yet...we now have the league saying that they will "never" let the teams bid against each other for players. Think about it.

Posted by: Jphubba | March 20, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Here's a news story about the Carolina Challenge Cup:

Meanwhile, I'm in Richmond for the Jefferson Cup girls' tournament, and in other soccer news, the Washington Freedom beat the U Va women here 3-2. It was a very entertaining friendly and quite well attended (free admission). The grandstand at Sports Backers Stadium (which, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe is the old VCU stadium) looked full, which means there were maybe 2,000 people there. As for the game, the Wambach-Bompastor interplay has got great chemistry. Lisa De Vanna came on for Abby at around 70', and is she fast. UVA hung in there, though, twice tying, and though they were overmatched, they didn't fold. I might add that the weather was perfect. All things being equal, which they never are, I guess I would rather have been in Charleston, but this was a fine display of the women's game.

Posted by: dccal | March 20, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I'll order DirectKick now. Sanity prevails.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 21, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

I imagine the re-entry draft will work similar to the NFL's restricted free agency tenders or the supplemental draft.

Either teams will tender draft picks or allocation $ to the player who is out of contract, and the team that "drafts" them sends those picks/allocation to the former team (which is really no different than the old way of working); or once you pick a player in the "draft" you forfeit that pick in the next SuperDraft.

Scenario 1 seems more likely, since your just putting a new marketing spin on the old way of working.

Posted by: mediaman1976 | March 21, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

In MlS vs Fraser, the league convinced the court that MLS was not a single entity simply to suppress the players' wages and yet...we now have the league saying that they will "never" let the teams bid against each other for players. Think about it.

Posted by: Jphubba | March 20, 2010 10:34 PM
MLS rightly convinced the courts that MLS was not a monopoly. This is due to the fact that there are hundreds of other leagues to bid for player services. Players do not have to sign with MLS to work in the soccer industry. Thus it is not a monopoly. You don't want different departments (the teams)of the same company (MLS) bidding over an employee of the company (MLS). All players knew the rules before they signed on with MLS. It is right or fair? Who knows. But it's what they signed on for.

Posted by: boda-united | March 21, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The players caved. The investor-operators who spoke out this week about the consequesnces of a strike scared the players into a deal.

The league's system of restraining players from at least a reasonable amount of movement among its teams, subject to other rules such as a salary cap and minimum service, would not pass the rule-of-reason test as under federal anti-trust law.

The players' union, if it indeed a certified labor union as under fedral law (MLBPA is not, NFLPA is) should have decertified and gone into federal court and sued. It would have won, just as the NFL players did in the McNeil case in 1993.

Posted by: lgm6986 | March 21, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse


They did sue with the advent of single entity, and the law sided with MLS.

Posted by: mediaman1976 | March 21, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

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