Brad Evans has said that a strike is imminent given MLS’s refusal to budge on free agency. The MLS Players’ Union has stated that free agency is the largest issue regarding a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and Evans does not see the MLS offering it at all, especially by the time March 6th rolls around (the beginning of the MLS season).
Free agency is a serious threat to the financial stability of MLS, hence their refusal to offer any type of free agency in any of the negotiations thus far. It was free agency that doomed the NASL 30 years ago, and MLS does not want a repeat disaster on their hands. Thus all signs point to a strike.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this story is a lack of coverage from the media. MLS seems to think a deal will get done by March 6th, perhaps viewing the MLSPU posturing as a bargaining tactic, but I don’t see any reason why the MLSPU would not hit MLS with a work stoppage and cripple the league financially. Yes the players would also be hurt financially, but the promise of more money via free agency might galvanize the players to follow through on what MLS may perceive as an idle threat.
For the record, I still say the season will NOT start on time, but now I believe it may not start until April or even May. All signs now point to a strike, unless the MLS caves on free agency (which they won’t) or the players accept a contract without it (which they say they won’t), or federal mediators get involved, which they could (and did in 2010).