Union and MLS 'extremely far apart' on new CBA
By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - Major League Soccer teams began reporting for pre-season training on Friday with the players' union warning that it and the league were "extremely far apart" on talks over a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
The league and the players union (MLSPA) have been discussing a new CBA with the current five-year deal running out at the end of January and MLS's 20th season due to start on March 6.
If no deal is struck in time, that would raise the prospect of a lockout or a strike -- a possibility mentioned by Toronto and U.S. national team midfielder Michael Bradley this week.
MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott, however, says the process is still in its early stages.
"It is premature at this stage of the discussions to speculate about the possibility of a work stoppage," he told reporters.
"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 negotiations".
While CBA talks are always tough and frequently go down to the wire, the current negotiations have a clear potential sticking point, given that the players are demanding the introduction of free agency.