MLS players prepared to strike if CBA discussions fall apart

The Major League Soccer Players Association is preparing for a strike if discussions over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the league fall apart. The existing CBA expires on Jan. 31, 2020.

“A strike is never the goal, and it’s not our goal,” MLSPA executive director Bob Foose told the media in Orlando ahead of the July 31 MLS All-Star Game against Atlético Madrid at Exploria Stadium. “If we each come to the table and work hard to find common ground, I’m very confident we can reach an agreement that will benefit both the player pool and the league.

“That’s my hope and the hope of all the players. If it doesn’t happen, at that point the player pool will be making a decision as to whether or not they’re willing to play with the terms that are on the table,” Foose said.

According to Foose, the MLSPA has begun preparing for a possible work stoppage by creating a strike fund, with players also drawing up plans for alternative living arrangements and training options. Such funds have been common historically among players’ unions in other major US sports.

Among the players’ demands are having more say into where they live and work, a fairer system to earn higher wages, and the ability for teams to travel by charter flight more often. The labor discussions arrive as MLS is experiencing another period of growth around the league and is preparing to continue its franchise expansion.

“We understand that if it’s going to come to that [a strike], we are ready for that,” Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “We hope that in good faith we are both able to come to the table and find common ground and continue to grow this sport and grow this league in a positive direction.”