MLS, Players Union Staring at March 25 Deadline

Landon Donovan took a plane from London to Los Angeles on Sunday, wrapping up his 10-week loan spell with Everton.

After hitting an In-N-Out, he’ll be getting set to start the MLS season with the Galaxy.


As I’m sure you’ve heard, his fellow MLS players have voted to strike if a new collective bargaining agreement with the league isn’t reached by March 25, the scheduled opening night for the league.

We haven’t heard much from the league in recent days, but players are still making their case in the media.

Seattle keeper Kasey Keller told the Associated Press, “This is truly a case of guys who could make more money going out and getting a job, but they’re trying to live out the dream.”

He went on to add, “I understand where the league was coming from five, 10 years ago when it was up against the wall if we were going to still have a league. That’s now no longer the case and some of the things they were able to get away with just can’t happen anymore.”

Well, somebody had to provide the “it’s not all about the money” quote.

And, just in case the league needed something else to worry about, David Beckham ruptured his Achilles’ tendon and will likely miss the 2010 MLS season.

If there is one.

There’s still time to get a deal done, but we’ve been saying that since the old agreement expired in January.

The silence on the owners’ end of the table is somewhat telling.

The players union, it seems, is gearing up for a fight.

A season – one with an expansion team, shiny new stadium in the New York area and a promised World Cup-bump for the second half – hangs in the balance.

Which way, I wonder, will it tip?

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21 Responses to MLS, Players Union Staring at March 25 Deadline

  1. Tim says:

    Maybe Landon can provide some freaking perspective to the players, and then tell the owners to stop being asshats. I’d prefer they continue negotiations throughout the season.

    As for Keller, I haven’t taken him seriously in regards to the strike. He seems to have been for it since it became an issue.

  2. Ford says:

    The league would die if there was a strike. Look what happened to MLB in 1994. MLB was the hottest ticket in North American sports at the time and they still have not recovered a fanbase that realized there were other things to do in the summer. MLS isn’t even close to being as popular as MLB so a strike would likely be fatal.

    As for a new CBA, it is certainly time for the players (agents) to be able to seek out their own opportunities through free agency. Wages is a sensitive issue though, as some clubs would be hard-pressed to raise their wage floor, whereas some of more popular clubs could accept the wage floor and accumulate better players with higher wages who were forced out of clubs because of their financial situations.

    • Bob says:

      The baseball reference is not quite accurate. In 1994, MLB was averaging 31,256 per game. In 2009 they averaged 29,155, in the midst of a recession. 1994 is the highest average attendance of all time for baseball.

      So, yeah, they aren’t back to 1994 levels…but they are higher than every year of existence prior to 1993 and 1994. Suggesting they haven’t recovered is erroneous. It’s not like MLB is averaging 15,000 a game.

      • Mark says:

        2008 avg MLB attendance: 32,375. Attendance was down for a while, though. I think it took about 10 years to rebound to the 1994 avg.

  3. Has anyone noticed the total lack of coverage this is getting in the mainstream media? Beckham’s tendons are splayed all over broadcast media today. Feel good World Cup stories are sprinkled around.

    MLS strike deadline gets zilch.

    Kasey’s right. I wonder if he thinks it’s systemic. Closed league conundrum.

    • CoconutMonkey says:

      They kinda talk about it.

      The AP story I read in this morning’s paper mentioned the strike in the story about Beckham. It even had a Bruce Arena quote too. No headlines yet though.

  4. Jimmi Underhill says:

    If they do strike, i hope landon goes back to everton. that’s where he belongs.

  5. Rex says:

    Every time the players say “It’s not about the money.” It makes me mad. I would support them if it WAS just about the money. The league should and is capable of giving them more money. What the league is NOT capable of doing is changing the fundamental foundations for the league.

    It’s like workers at Burger King saying they were tired of taking special orders and wanted corporate to get rid of the “Have it your way” policy. You cant change the basic foundations of a company, in MLS’ case, single entity which all tines into true free agency etc.

  6. Oscar says:

    I agree with the Player’s Union, although it’s possible Keller’s perspective is a bit flawed. If you walk into Qwest Field on game day and see the crowds our boys are drawing (outdoing the Mariners most nights), it’s appalling to think of how little these players are getting.

    • Mark says:

      Unfortunately, most MLS cities are not like Seattle. And the tv ratings are still low. The players could surely stand to make a greater pct of league revenue, but I wouldn’t compare MLS, even the Sounders or Galaxy, to the Mariners just yet.

    • Charles says:

      The Mariners make a LOT more than the Sounders do.
      But that is not the point. The Sounders could pay salaries 4x what they do….the rest of the league cannot.

      So the age old arguement, do you let the Sounders be the Mega team and the others make their way…or do you have an equity system.

  7. Logan says:

    There’s lots of signings going on recently in MLS considering there’s a players’ strike looming. Could it mean anything?

  8. CleartheBall says:

    Keller’s comment on players could be making more working a regular job? Is he talking only about the lowest paid group. League average is about $89K. Good luck finding a job for that amount in today’s market. I agree with the players’ arguments, but the sides need to meet in the middle. I really enjoy taking my family to MLS games and I’d really miss it if it were gone.

  9. NASL1 says:

    What other league has single entity?

    • SSS says:

      The Australian league I think is single entity other than that I know of no other league that is single entity. That’s why everyone else is better than us

    • Charles says:

      NFL is in the Supreme Court right now arguing they are single entity.
      And no SSS, that is not why everyone is better than us, they are better because they have more money/fans.

  10. Brattman says:

    I completely agree with the MLS owners. They are the investors in the league and stand to lose millions. The players are just laborers in the industry, one that does not, and should not pay them one more dime until they start making the show more exciting so more fans will fill the seats and the networks will pay MLS cash for broadcasting their product.

    If the players do not want to accept what is offered, they can quit soccer, go overseas or find another profession.

    There are plenty of cashiers that want to make $1,000,000 are year, but they just plain are not worth it.

    The players should stop complaining and either enjoy the ride or get off the train…..

    • bob says:

      The players should “start making the show more exciting so more fans will fill the seas”? Um, how bout the owners pony up some cash and bring in some better, more talented players.

      MLS isn’t exciting precisely because of the salary cap. It guarantees that you will see low level talent. You think MLS is going to be exciting with a #2.3 million, or whatever it is, team salary limit? Keep dreaming.

      • Brattman says:

        It isn’t money that makes the show more exciting, it is the players, and purely shoveling more cash will not attract fans that will support the types of salaries that the world’s greatest players can command.

        It is a double edged shotgun here, the MLS needs more exciting and gifted soccer players and the fans need to create enough demand to generate ticket sales and a television revenue stream.

        Since neither can occur with this current group of players, why pay them more? More cash will not improve their game(show), so it serves no purpose.

  11. NASL1 says:

    The single entity has run it’s course….MLS is crumbling, If right now a alternative league came out in those same MLS cities with no salary cap and better players, guess where all the smart fans would go?

  12. Roger says:

    Let the soccer gods hear you NASL1

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