I am sure as the days get closer to either a new CBA being signed or a player strike, that the opinions will continue to be voiced by those online. If there is one thing that rings clear from all the opinions of both professional and amateur pundits, neither side is has won the PR battle.
First up is the 12th Man a blog that covers all kinds of soccer related things, they offer us a post called "MLS Owners are out of touch":
Basically, there is no such thing as free agency in the MLS which is ludicrous. Since when can corporations own people? This sounds like slavery than a sports league. In every other soccer or sports league, a team has no rights to a player if they are no longer under contract. Playing for the MLS is like selling your soul to the devil. So why would any player American or European want to play in the MLS?
Good question, yet players are lining up to come here from South America, Central America, Europe. The reason is simple, they get paid. Unlike some clubs in all of those markets who operate with so much debt that payrolls are missed, that is something that has never happened in MLS. No player is forced to play in MLS, it is a choice they make, they sign a contract and know what the terms of that contract are. If I leave my company, I can't tell them that they have to offer me a new job in a new department for more money, that isn't slavery, that is reality of the workplace.
Then from House of Soccer we get a post titled, "Fire Bob Foose", for those who don't know Bob Foose is the president of the MLS Players Union.
To read a real nugget from their post and more, just take the jump:
House of Soccer offers us this:
Foose has fooled his flock into thinking that their demands are tantamount to God-given rights. The League, whose owners have lost millions keeping it alive, has operated wisely, and kept its players relatively happy for the past decade and a half. No single club is on the verge of bankruptcy (thank you, single-entity structure), unlike Portsmouth across the pond. In fact, it should come as no shock that, as a whole, MLS is in far better financial shape than the EPL.
To the players, remember this: all of you were born before MLS began. It has experienced setbacks (contraction), but overall, has enjoyed steady growth, is in good health, and provides you with an opportunity that simply did not exist when you were born.
A number of good points are made in the post, but Foose isn't the problem. I think there are many issues but because the teams hands are tied by MLS on so many fronts, nobody is really sure who is in charge of the circus and why not push for a bigger share of the pie? MLS can't make up their mind on anything, they let Eddie Johnson go overseas, but not Sacha Kljestan. They fail to offer a player like Stuart Holden a raise before his contract expires, they leave him playing for under $40,000 last year, and he leaves because nobody was willing to do anything about a great player who was getting jobbed by the league.
There is case after case that can be made of players and situations that have simply been handled wrong by MLS, but that doesn't mean you try in a couple months to scrap the entire structure of the league in CBA talks. A long term plan that the league, owners, and players can agree on should be worked out this year, with real goals for MLS and soccer in general in the US. There should be goals that are measurable and tangible that each group has to work towards, that will get us to where it seems Foose and the players think we already are.
So what will happen on Monday if the players decide to strike? Do they expect the owners to cave in, to close up shop? Well Pitch Invasion takes comments from RSL's owner Dave Checketts and make a big assumption in "MLS, the Replacements"
There aren't many things the owners can do that would be "very aggressive and very different" that don't involve hiring scabs to replace MLS players on strike.
I don't see this scenario resulting in a Keanu Reeves movie romanticising the replacements, but it may be an apropos comparison. That 1987 players strike in the NFL came as massively rising television revenues were lining the owners' pockets and the players wanted more of the pie; not quite the same as today in MLS, though obviously rising revenues are behind some of the players' demands. Moreover, NFL players were already being paid considerably more than MLS players today, with a median income of $170,000 in 1987 money, double MLS players median today not even adjusting for inflation.
I am not sure if that is what the owners have in mind, but it has to be said that there are always more soccer players than soccer jobs. I really, really hope it doesn't come to that. I think the idea of forming teams from each teams fans is a much better idea, and would be much more entertaining.
Anyhow as I said it is clear that there are as many different opinions out there as there are people, but I believe all of us want to see the season start on time and a deal made that will help the league and sport continue to grow.
OFF MY SOAPBOX (join the boycott of MLS gear until a new CBA is done)