On a scale of 1-10 in terms of free agency, the free-agency rights MLS players enjoy are about a .1. A player out of contract meeting certain thresholds has the right to enter the Re-Entry Draft,
where another team -- not necessarily of his choice -- can pick him up.
The players want to change that. They are not seeking something less than 10 -- the restricted free agency
bargained by other American sports unions -- but 10 -- the unrestricted free agency enjoyed by pro soccer players elsewhere.
To achieve that, they are using MLS commissioner Don Garber
's words against him in the p.r. battle that kicked off last week. Washington Post
. Meetings between league and player representatives in Washington last
week were supposed to last two days but they ended on Tuesday following the presentation of the league's counterproposal to the MLS Players Union.
“We remain very far apart on
important issues,” Bob Foose
, executive director of the MLSPU, told the Insider on Thursday morning. “We will continue at it but it’s
difficult to see a path to an agreement at this point.” Some dates to remember:
The current collective bargaining agreement expires on Jan. 31,
but the 2015 regular season doesn't start until March 5. D.C. United and Montreal Impact begin competitive play, however, in the last week of February when they play the first leg of the Concacaf
Champions League quarterfinals. Perspective:
A deal was reached on the current five-year CBA on March 20, 2010, only five days before the start of the season.
“There is a ton of time,” said D.C. United defender Bobby Boswell
. “I remember the last one, a similar message came out of the early
meetings. We’ll see. We’ll have more [meetings]. I am optimistic. We all are." ESPN FC
. The talks in Washington were attended by league and player
representatives and their attorneys. They included Garber, deputy commissioner Mark Abbott
and executive vice president Todd
representing MLS and player reps Todd Dunivant
(LA Galaxy), Kofi Sarkodie
(Houston), Chris Schuler
(Real Salt Lake) and Boswell. The frustration of the players was that free agency was not addressed in the
"We told them we'd be open to talking about exactly what free agency means, and what makes the most sense for players and the league, which is what we want ultimately,"
Dunivant said. "But their proposal had nothing to do with free agency, not a mention." SI.com
. FC Dallas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy
, a member of the
MLSPU's executive board, takes the world view on soccer and labor rights.
“You can see the landscape of other professional leagues in the
United States, in which free agency comes in many different forms," he said. "Soccer’s different. Throughout the world, soccer has unrestricted free agency. It is there. It’s the norm.
Certainly we’re working toward that. We feel like if we’re going to be a league that’s one of the best in the world, I think it makes sense to abide by those rules.” Orlando Sentinel
. Orlando City goalkeeper Tally Hall
says the players don't
feel they are being greedy.
"We want the league to grow," he says. "The league growth, when the commissioner talks, I believe in his message of the league being a ‘league of
choice.’ All the players are behind that. We have some very good ideas of how to get players to choose to stay, to come to the league." Reuters
. Michael Bradley
, who returned to MLS in 2014 with one of
the biggest contracts in league history, told reporters at the national team training camp last week that the goal was to avoid a work stoppage but the players were united and prepared to strike, if
necessary. Nonetheless, Abbott said the league was committed to continued negotiations.
"It is premature at this stage of the discussions to speculate about the possibility of a work
stoppage," he said in a statement released to the media. "Although there are a number of issues that still need to be resolved, that is true of every CBA negotiation and we are committed to continued