Your Guide to the Looming MLS Player Strike

MLS' Don Garber

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As the MLS season ebbs closer, there has been growing unrest from the players, and it seems that they are ready to strike if their demands are not met. The scheduled beginning of the season is March 6th, but each day closer with no agreement suggests we may have a work stoppage. If you are have questions over what the players could possibly want to strike about, we have you covered.

Professional players already make so much money, what more could they want?

One of the main issues the players are striking for is the minimum salary. While there are players like Kaka and Jozy Altidore who will make millions, there are other players in the league who will make the league minimum. Currently, that sits at $35,125 for multiple players. This seems like a noble cause, considering the MLS is one of the only growing leagues in the world with plenty of financial growth.

Seems simple, what else could be so important to cause a strike?

This is a mostly foreign concept to American sports, but the MLS doesn’t have Free Agency. Since the MLS is run as a single-entity, the league holds the contract of every player. Any US national team player who comes to play in the US can be placed or “allocated” to any team the league wishes. But somehow the same rules don’t apply when aging stars come to the MLS. The players are very staunch on this point and will not be playing until they get some sort of agreement on this issue.

Have negotiations even begun?

They have, but not at substantial pace to get done before the season is slated to begin. As the March 6th deadline approaches, look for both sides to ramp up negotiations to bring this saga to a close.

What would a strike mean?

Well, for one thing, no games. The players have become unified in their wishes and have promised to not play if demands are not met. That means fans will be left without watching their beloved teams, owners losing out on revenue, and sponsors missing out on viewership. I don’t think the MLS can afford to allow a strike to go on for too long like perhaps the MLB or NHL withstood. There is too much at stake for that to happen.

Who is at the negotiating table?

For the players it is the MLS Players Union, and for the league, it is obviously the MLS. Both sides have hired mediators to help speed things along, but the players definitely have more chips on their side of the table. One of the most recognizable and vocal players on the issue is Michael Bradley, who has stated that free agency is definitely an issue to strike over.

Toronto's Michael Bradley

Will a strike cripple the MLS?

It’s tough to say really. All of the other American leagues to go through a strike were way more established than the MLS were at the time of their strikes. The league has made substantial moves in its existence, but has yet to really put its stamp as a prominent league. The league will almost undoubtedly survive, but will be making a huge mistake if they allow this debacle to grow into a full-fledged strike.

How long will this last?

AS LONG AS IT TAKES! Sort of a joke, but not really. Players can move around, but stadiums cannot. There is too much at stake for the league to allow the strike to go on. Most insiders expect a deal to be struck before the beginning of the season, or shortly thereafter. With the launching of the two expansion teams, you would have to think that they would want a shining reveal of the squads after the entire Frank Lampard debacle. They can’t take many more credibility hits if they hope to become one of the top leagues in the world any time soon.

Why is this coming up now?

The previous Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Players Association and the league expired on January 31st. It lasted for five years, and served both parties well. Some sort of CBA will have to be passed before any football is to be played.

So we know the main issues, what else?

Some of the other issues that the players are pushing for is a higher salary cap and additional designated player slots. The salary cap is a huge issue because it is intertwined with other legal mumbo jumbo with Home Grown Players, Designated Players, and Generation adidas Players. As for DP spots, currently each team started with three. Teams can buy, sell, or trade for more spots, which allow them to bring in star players. The Players Union is pushing to give teams an additional DP roster slot, giving each team four in total.

There you have it, your know all about the players strike on the MLS. Hopefully both sides can get this resolved, as I am uber-excited about this new season!

Check out The Center Circle’s MLS Season Preview content right here


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About the author: Dominic Habjan


I am a contributor to SoccerPro’s blogs, and truly enjoy writing about the World’s Game. I support Sporting KC, US National Team, and Slovenian National Team. I follow the Premier League but don’t necessarily have a favorite club. I am an avid sports fan, but prefer college to professional leagues in every sport with exception to soccer. I love the Mizzou Tigers, KC Royals, and KC Chiefs. Outside sports I enjoy movies, music, and musical theatre.



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