While details of Major League Soccer’s new collective bargaining agreement are yet to be announced officially, not all players involved in the negotiations left happy with the outcome. One player, who was at the table but left before the final ratification, told SI.com many of his colleagues are upset.
“Players are disappointed and upset with the union reps and Bob Foose,” the player said, referring to the MLS Players Union executive director. “Not only did this deal destroy the future of the American player, it barely helps the current group of players.”
The Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday that the new agreement extends five years, creating free agency for players 28 and older with eight years of MLS experience. Salary increases will be based on how much each player makes. The new deal also increases the minimum annual salary to $60,000 and raises the salary cap. Goal.com's Ives Galarcep reports that seven of the league's 20 teams voted against the accepted deal.
“In the end, it was the best deal according to some of the guys in the room because [of] the divide of the union guys,” said the player, who would not qualify for free agency under the conditions reported. “It seemed as if a strike wouldn't have helped or lasted long enough.”
MLS players’ hard-line tactics, seemingly unified and strong before negotiations started, waned considerably over the last few days. Just 24 hours prior to signing the agreement, the players voted 18-1 in favor of striking (Montreal's player representative was absent due to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg), although the tone of negotiations remained “pretty even-keel” throughout the process.
“We had a bottom line of what we would strike at. We continued to make concessions without seeing their hand,” the player said. “Then after the last talks, our own union president and the mediator, who is supposed to be a middleman, is telling us not to strike.”
With the pressure of a scheduled Friday night kickoff between the LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire, a deal needed to get done promptly. Even after league officials left the meeting room in Washington on Tuesday night, the players soldiered on until well into Wednesday.
"The pressure of the proximity played a definite role in how people changed their approach," the player said. “Next thing you know, we are signing this deal, not looking out for the players back home not in the room or the future Homegrown [Players]."