With MLS and the MLS Players Union requesting federal mediation in their negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, hopes for an MLS 2015 season are increasing.
ESPNFC reported that a mediator was requested to help things progress in the negotiations. But if 2010 is any indicator, when a federal mediator was brought in to discussions, it probably won't be the thing that pushes it to completion.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, where the mediator will come from, is a federal organization that employs certified mediators. Mediators from the FCMS were involved in the 2011 NFL negotiations, and in 2012, between NHL and its players, as well as the 2010 MLS talks.
It's hard to say if this will make a difference. A Soccer America piece from March 2010 about the MLS CBA negotiations indicated that players didn't see it as bringing the two sides closer to an agreement. But 8 days after the publication of that article, the bargaining came to a close, and the new agreement came into place. Five days later, the first match of the season kicked off (on a Thursday! Who knew?)
It's hard to say what the impact of the mediator was then, and what the impact of the mediator could be now. Nothing accomplished with the mediator is necessarily binding unless it makes the final agreement.
What the presence of a mediator does show is a willingness on both sides to get some sort of deal done. It does perhaps also signal a chance that the players are willing to budge on the free agency issue -- or at least that they're interested in listening. But with some players indicating they're willing to strike, a mediator at least gives us some positive sign.
We might still have a strike or a lockout in 2015, but at least we know that both sides of the discussions are looking to get things completed. There's at least some interest in resolving before the season starts.
Here's hoping a productive CBA is produced shortly, because, quite frankly, I just want some soccer, and I'd love for it to be on-time.