Former MLS star Landon Donovan said on Twitter on Wednesday that he hopes the league can avoid a work stoppage.
The MLS players union and league representatives are reportedly negotiating in Washington, D.C., but have yet to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Donovan, who retired after helping the Galaxy win the MLS cup last season, is MLS's all-time leader in goals and assists. He turned 33 on Wednesday.
While he was a player, Donovan served on the MLS players union executive board and regularly advocated on behalf of players in labor disputes.
Without a CBA in place, the start of the season is believed to be in jeopardy. The first game of the 2015 campaign—between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chicago Fire—is scheduled for Friday.
SI.com's Brian Straus wrote this week that one major sticking point in negotiations has been free agency. From SI.com:
“Because we function in an international market and the clubs that we are competing against for players are not subject to our salary budget, to have free agency within the league doesn’t provide us with the certainty that the union says it does,” [MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark] Abbott told SI.com in December. “In another [North American] league, if you lose a player from Washington, they go to Boston. They don’t go to London. When the union says they can offer cost certainty under free agency, it’s not true because we have to compete against clubs all throughout the world.”
While the union has countered that cost certainty can be maintained under the league’s salary budget, those protests miss the point. Sources familiar with the league’s position contend that MLS sees every extra dollar spent on a player already in its employ as a dollar that can’t go elsewhere, whether its toward designated players or youth development.