UPDATE: A deal has been reached between the MLS Players Union and league owners on a new collective bargaining agreement. Both players and league sources have announced the news, but details are still hazy.
One report suggests a rather modest increase in salary cap and minimum salary and an agreement to last the next seven years. If that's the case, the players may have given up some salary increase to achieve a limited type of free agency for veteran players.
Reports from well-connected reporters as well as observers on the scene of the ongoing CBA negotiations suggest the MLS Players Union is in the process of taking a vote. On exactly what, it's not clear.
I’m told players union is voting to on latest #MLSCBA offer, which must mean it was good enough to bring to members for a vote. #Progress— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) March 4, 2015
But there's little question that some sort of decision is under consideration among the players in Washington:
So from across the street you can see into the conference room where the players are meeting. Lots of pacing and guys on the phone. #MLSCBA— Brooke Tunstall (@YesThatBrooke) March 4, 2015
While this would be a very positive sign for the state of talks between the two sides, there's no guarantee that the vote on the current offer will pass. Additionally, it's not certain that the players are holding an up/down vote to accept the agreement currently on the table. It's also possible they could be weighing the decision to begin a strike.
A third possibility is that the two sides may be considering a short-term extension of the current agreement through the opening weekend, if minor details are all that's left to hammer out in the contract. The wording of this report certainly raises that question.
However, getting on the field for the much-hyped unveilings of two new MLS clubs and all the fanfare of First Kick would significantly undermine the leverage of the Players Union going into further talks. Their bargaining chip of threatening to strike is at its most powerful now.
But league owners have reportedly made some significant concessions in the talks of some sort of "free agent rule," and the players likely wouldn't still be negotiating if the two sides weren't close. The latest deal from the owners appears to be one in which players would be granted some kind of freedom of movement after they've turned 27 and spent seven years in the league.
Reports and rumors have slowed down for the moment, but you can follow along with us on our live thread.