Disaster has been averted. Major League Soccer and the Players' Union have agreed on a CBA, avoiding the first work-stoppage in the league's 20-year history and allowing the season to start on time. Now, we're learning details.
The biggest items appear to be that it's a five-year deal, there will be limited form of free agency adopted and the minimum rises to $60,000. All three appear to be significant gains for the players. There is more uncertainty around the size of the salary-cap increase.
Owners had reportedly been pushing for an eight-year deal and the initial reports even suggested that it was seven years. An eight-year deal would have pushed the CBA out to the end of the current television contract, and would have locked in the economics during a time when the league is expecting significant growth. The five-year deal is the same length as the two previous CBAs.
The free agency agreement is also apparently far more player friendly that initial reports had suggested. Although the so-called 28/8 threshold appears to have held, players who do become free agents will be able to get somewhat significant raises. Depending on how much newly qualified "free agents" already make, they'll be eligible for raises of 15 to 25 percent. Earlier reports had suggested MLS was only willing to allow free agents to get a 10 percent raise. There would probably not be any mechanism keeping players from receiving bigger raises if they aren't free agents, just like they can now.
The importance of the $60,000 minimum is a little harder to assess. This was apparently one of the last items players were pushing to increase. If the rosters are trimmed, as many have expected, it represents a sizable but not necessarily dramatic increase from the $48,500 veteran minimum. But if it applies to any player who appears with the senior team, it would be a huge raise over the $36,500 that some younger players currently make.
Various reports have suggested that players were not exactly ecstatic with this deal, but were unconvinced that a strike would bring about anything better. Ives Galarcep even reported that seven teams voted against ratification, with the Seattle Sounders among the 13 teams that approved it.