MLS reaches deal with players to avert strike

Thu Mar 5, 2015 12:17am EST
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By Simon Evans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major League Soccer and its players struck a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday, avoiding the threat of a players' strike two days before the start of the season.

MLS commissioner Don Garber confirmed to Reuters the MLS Players Union (MLSPU) and the league had reached agreement after four straight days of negotiations at the Washington offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

"I am pleased to announce we have reached an agreement in principle with our union," Garber told Reuters.

"We are not going into details tonight but it is great to be able to continue the momentum that we have been able to build for this league and do it in partnership with our players."

With the 20th MLS season scheduled to open on Friday, labor talks went down to the wire as the two sides hammered out a new five-year deal to replace the previous agreement which expired on Jan. 31.

"The deal is done," Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, the team's union representative, told Reuters as he left the talks.

Orlando City representative Tally Hall, whose team makes their MLS debut on Sunday against fellow-expansion team New York City FC, said he was proud of the work of the players.

The main sticking point in the talks was the players' demand for the introduction of free agency.   Continued...

Dec 3, 2013; New York, NY, USA; MLS commissioner Don Garber speaks about the state of the league at Google Offices. Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports