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Players ratify new CBA, clearing way for MLS season

Start of preseason and regular-season could end being pushed back.

Don Garber looks on to see how teams will spend their new allowances.
Don Garber looks on to see how teams will spend their new allowances.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Players Association ratified the reworked Collective Bargaining Agreement on Monday, clearing the way for the 2021 season to begin. The players’ bargaining committee had come to an agreement on the new terms a few days prior but the larger player pool still needed to sign off for it to become official.

The MLSPA released a statement that thanked other North American players’ unions as well as various supporters’ groups for backing their efforts.

MLS players have made incredible sacrifices and overcome considerable challenges in the past year to continue doing their jobs during a difficult time for all of us. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our player leadership for continuing to guide us during these unprecedented times.

Although MLS has not formally moved away from plans to open training camp on Feb. 22 and the start playing games on April 3, a source indicated to Sounder at Heart that both could be delayed as long as two weeks.

This marks the third time in about a year that the players and owners have come to an agreement on a new CBA. Since that initial agreement last February, the biggest change is that three years have collective been added that now takes it through 2027.

In the latest revision, two additional years were added. Those added years will coincide with loosened rules that will allow players to become free agents as young as 24 years old and with just four years of MLS experience. Currently, players must be at least 24 with five years of MLS experience. As recently as 2015, players had no free agency rights.

While delaying the usually larger raises that come with a new CBA, the players were able to avoid paycuts in the short-term and secure larger-than-previously scheduled raises in the final two years of the new deal. In 2027, players will get a 10% across-the-board pay raise.

The players did, however, have to settle for a flat salary budget for 2021-22, albeit with a slightly increased pool of allocation money for 2022.


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