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CBA uncertainty could see Sounders moving elsewhere for games

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Cristian Roldan says he might be forced to seek a loan if deal can’t be reached.

Cuba v United States - CONCACAF Nations League

Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan is understandably thrilled that his teammate and friend Jordan Morris made the move overseas to make his mark in Europe.

Roldan and Morris have been teammates since 2016, when Morris was signed by the Sounders as a Homegrown Player. Roldan was drafted a year earlier out of the University of Washington. They became fast friends, first as two of the youngest players on team and then developed into established leaders. Now, for the first time in five years, they’re on separate teams, as Morris joined Swansea City on a six-month loan.

Roldan said he’s happy for Morris, and expects him to have an immediate impact.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Roldan told the media on Thursday. “I think Jordan has the skillset, the mindset and the physical attributes to compete at that level. Once his teammates get to know him better, he’ll have a lot of success with Swansea.”

Roldan cracked a smile when reminded that the deal was a loan, and not a permanent move. “It’s a loan, so who knows what his future holds. I expect him to do extremely well there. He has all the attributes to be successful,” he said.

That said, if Major League Soccer and the Players Association can’t come to an agreement, Roldan might be closer to his friend sooner than he thought.

As Roldan prepares for the men’s national team matchup with Trinidad & Tobago on Sunday, the ongoing fight between owners and the players’ union is set to come to a head on Friday at midnight. That’s when MLS imposed a deadline for the players and the league to come to an agreement on yet another revised CBA agreement. If the parties cannot come to an accord, MLS has threatened to void the CBA and potentially lock out the players.

What that would mean for the players long term is unclear, but Roldan doesn’t seem inclined to wait to find out. The possibility of a long lockout with no competitive games to an unacceptable scenario, given the busy national team schedule, and the amount of talent competing for spots.

“That’s really up in the air,” Roldan said of the negotiations between the league and players. “As a player all you want to do is play. If we’re in a lockout, if we’re not playing, there is potential that we can find a team where I’m able to play, able to stay fit. It’s a big year for U.S. Soccer, so being available and 90 minutes fit is extremely important.”

It’s been nearly exactly one year since the players and owners first came to an agreement on a new CBA. That deal wasn’t ever ratified, and the coronavirus pandemic allowed the league to extract significant concessions from the players last June. That deal included a force majeure clause which allowed either side to again negotiate revisions to the CBA, and potentially withdraw from it completely.

“It’s an intense time for all of us players and the league,” said Walker Zimmerman, also in camp with the national team. “We give our input as best we can and make sure we’re up to date, and we’ll see how things shake out in the next couple of days.”

For Roldan, it’s important that he looks after his best interests in the event of a lockout, and if that means leaving the team that drafted him and his adopted hometown, then so be it.

“Whatever is going on with MLS and the players’ association, we have to find an agreement,” Roldan said. “If it doesn’t [happen], we as players have to look out for ourselves and find the best fit for us so we can move forward with our career, so we’re playing at the highest level possible and be selected for the national team.”