Major League Soccer and the players union have agreed to keep talking.
The two sides came to a mutual agreement Thursday to extend their negotiating period to Feb. 12.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires Jan. 31, putting the union in position to strike or the owners in position to impose a lockout.
But the two parties don’t look to be exploring those options.
“Both the players’ union and MLS have concluded that a new agreement will not be reached by February 1, but we have agreed to continue to talk and we will be meeting over the next two weeks to determine if a new agreement can be reached,” said Major League Soccer Players Union executive director Bob Foose in a joint statement released between the MLSPU and the league. “In the meantime, MLS Players are reporting to training camp, and preparations for the 2010 season will continue.”
“While we still have areas of disagreement, the talks have been constructive and both parties believe it makes sense to continue to work hard to reach agreement,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “This extension provides both MLS and the players the opportunity to continue our discussions while clubs are in training camps preparing for the 2010 MLS season.”
Toronto FC is set to begin training camp on Monday, with players set for medicals at York University on Wednesday. The team opens the season March 27 in Columbus.
Earlier this week, Freddie Ljungberg, Seattle Sounders FC’s Designated Player, said he would return to MLS as he had assurances from both sides that neither a strike or lockout would abort the 2010 season.
The major sticking point between the two sides isn't money; players are seeking more guaranteed contracts, and a loosening of MLS' central control over player contracts. The union is seeking more freedom for players out of contract, who currently can't move on their to other teams when their deals expire.