MLS Breakdown

Allie Ryan, Staff Writer

They met at conference tables, they drank coffee, they brought in federal mediators. There was very nearly a strike. But the MLS Players Union and Major League Soccer have finally figured out the basics of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

It’s not LeBron James money, but it’s a 64% raise for the league’s lowest earners and it means that the MLS minimum now is more than enough to live on.”

The players’ main priority was free agency. Free agency allows the players the freedom to entertain offers from other MLS teams once their contract expires, and with interested teams deciding what each player is worth rather than the MLS head office. The players received a very limited form of free agency. Players aged 28 or older, who have played in the league for eight years or more (with any team), are free agents once their contract expires. They are free to entertain offers from any team in the league.

This CBA also involved money of course; the players’ salaries. Those are going up, up, up. The 2014 minimum salary was $36,500 and the 2015 minimum will be $60,000. It’s not LeBron James money, but it’s a 64% raise for the league’s lowest earners and it means that the MLS minimum now is more than enough to live on. Some players might even get their own apartments.The new deal puts limits on how much a free agent’s new salary can increase by. If they were making less than $100,000 then the increase is capped at 25%, if making $100,000-200,000 the increase is capped at 20%, and if making more than $200,000 the increase is capped at 15%.

Now most people are wondering if the players are actually happy with this, and some of them are not. There are a handful of anonymous quotes out there from players who were fully prepared to strike for better terms, and all indications are that seven MLS teams voted against the agreement. It’s more of a logical win for the players than a financial one, and one could even make the case that MLS started from an extreme position as a negotiating tactic and ultimately got what they wanted.
The CBA is set to last for 8 years, but they’ll be back for renegotiation in 2020. That’s another small win for the players because the league wanted the CBA to last for 5 years. And when 2020 rolls around, the players will negotiate to lower the numbers in that 28 and 8 formula (28 years of age and who have played in the league for 8 years).The 2015 season kicked off last week and will resume playing as agreed in the CBA.