One thing this offseason that I've avoided much talk about at least on here is the negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. The main reason I have has mainly had to do with the fact that it really isn't my area of expertise. I've never been part of a union, nor have I ever been part of labor negotiations so I don't feel comfortable being the one to talk about it much. On Twitter I have been retweeting a number of articles about the on going negotiations. But now, less than 24 hours before the Chicago Fire are set to depart for LA ahead of the 2015 season opener, the talk regarding the CBA has really heated up and been a roller coaster to follow all day.
The big news today really started with reports that a strike was growing more likely, and while the players union didn't have the funds in their coffers to survive an extended work stoppage, reports came out that other players' unions would get help from other sports unions to boost their strike fund. A move like that would certainly signify the union's intent to dig in and stand firm.
That report was followed by more disappointment and worry about the season as more reports came out about the league rejecting the union's compromises and that Clark Hunt is the main hardliner on the owners' side of things. There were even reports of fee agency discussions that were tilted well in the owners' favor. Thirty-two years old with 10 years of experience with that one team was pretty laughable, as only one active player actually would meet that requirement after this season, Brad Davis. Kansas City has never even had a player play 10 years with the club, the closest being Kerry Zavagnin and Eric Kronberg who were both with the club for nine years of their playing career. That report though proved to be some old information and that options had improved since than.
Things took a more positive turn later in the evening with further reports on the CBA. The free agency aspect was still there, and had been improved to 28 years old with 8 years experience, which didn't have to be with the same team. But with the give and take, the increase a player could get over their current contract was only 10% of their contract.
The length of the new CBA is also something that's become a point of contention as the owners want to have an eight year CBA, three years longer than the current one. If a solution is going to come and save the first week of the season, it is going to need to come soon.
I, like many people fall more on the side of the players in this situation. I understand that free agency could bring a challenge to MLS' single entity again, but I feel this may be the time to lose some of that. I don't think the players are going to get full free agency, from the ESPN article, I think they may be able to get a few years of service knocked off the offer, but the owners likely won't want to knock the age down further, but it's something we'll have to wait and see, the doomsday clock has hit 11:58 and things aren't sounding too good right now.
For those curious, Jacob Peterson is the team's union representative, but for the current negotiations, Benny Feilhaber, Chance Myers, and Graham Zusi are also in New York at this time.
Van der Vaart news
Sam McDowell added more information to the discussion of Rafael van der Vaart to Kansas City. McDowell confirmed Sporting's interest, and got new quotes from Robb Heinman regarding the move. Heineman did shoot down the $4.8 million offer KC was reported to make, was untrue, and stated that there has not been a discussion of price.