MLS season in limbo

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:42 AM ET

MLS players will continue to work -- for now.

Both the league and MLS Players' Union issued statements that said that neither would extend their negotiation window on a new collective bargaining agreement past Thursday's deadline. But the players have said they won't hold a strike vote yet.

"We have told the Players' Union that the league does not plan to lock out the players and we are prepared to begin the season under the current CBA while we continue to bargain to reach agreement on a new CBA," read a statement issued by MLS.

"We have listened to the issues raised by the MLS Players' Union and the League has made detailed proposals that have addressed these issues, including in the areas of economics, guaranteed contracts, options and the ability of a player to move to another MLS Club if he is released by his current club.

"These proposals, which represent substantial changes from the current CBA, will significantly increase our spending and provide substantially more rights to the players."

The key issue is the movement of players. The players want the league to introduce some kind of free agency system, as they want MLS to abandon the right-of-first-refusal system that allows a club to retain a player's rights even after his contract expires. For example, defender Adrian Serioux, even though his contract expired and TFC has indicated he won't be back, can't move to another team unless the Reds deal his rights. And, rumours are strong that there are many suitors looking for his services.

Union head Bob Foose said through a release that "Effective at midnight tonight (Friday), our collective bargaining agreement with MLS will expire. While we expect that negotiations with MLS will resume at some point, there simply hasn't been enough progress made in the negotiations to date to warrant an extension of the old agreement. We have advised our players to keep working for the time being, but as of Friday they will be doing so without a CBA. In the meantime, all options are being considered as the process continues. We are completely committed to forging real changes to the way MLS players are treated."

So, what now?

According to MLS president Mark Abbott, the CBA doesn't need to be extended. According to what he told QMI Agency before the announcements, the rules that existed last year would simply continue as the two sides continued to talk and the league continued its business as usual. So, the language about an "expired" CBA may be moot.

So, for now, each team has one Designated Player spot, and the salary cap remains as it was last season. There is no new world without salary-cap rules or roster limits.

General managers throughout the league need to know what rules they will be operating under.

Many clubs have some high-profile trialists, and they couldn't ink any of the ones they liked until they found out if they would have any extra money to spend or international-player allocations to fill.

Of Toronto FC's trialists, Ugandan Vincent Kayizzi has been the most impressive. He scored in TFC's 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Thursday in the Reds' first game of the Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. TFC will play New York in the final of the tourney this weekend. The Red Bulls beat the Houston Dynamo 6-5 in penalty kicks, with trialist and former TFC No. 1 Greg Sutton in goal.


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