I'll use my past experience here and say this is not bad news, but I'm not sure it's anything to get excited about, either. From the looks of it, the league and players have agreed to sit down with a federal mediator but haven't agreed to binding arbitration. Neither side is legally bound to accept the mediator's ruling, if I'm reading this right. Although it usually doesn't hurt to have a disinterested third party sitting in the room telling each side how realistic they're being.
NEW YORK -- Major League Soccer confirmed that MLS and the MLS Players Union have agreed to meet next week in Washington, D.C. to continue collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
As part of the meetings, MLS and the Union have jointly accepted the invitation of George H. Cohen, the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), to serve as a mediator during the discussions.
In my experience, federal mediators are good at getting both sides to be honest and realistic about what they can accomplish. During our negotiations, the mediator managed to at least get us moving in the right direction and ultimately we were able to hash out a deal after about a year of negotiations.
Apparently, Cohen was a union lawyer for about 40 years before accepting a job with the federal mediators. I'm not so sure I'd read too much into that, though.
In any case, it's a lot better than both sides just brooding in their own corners.