CBA Negotiations Critical (for Crew)
I have been ever hopeful that the CBA will get a deal done before the MLS season. I haven’t been as confident that the Crew’s Champions League game would escape trouble. It was a good sign that both sides have agreed to two extensions from the original January 31st deadline, however it also seemed to be papering and pushing out the inevitable hard work to get a deal done. It looks as if the players and MLS finally hit the really hard parts of getting a new collective bargaining agreement in place.
The players representatives went on a PR offensive this weekend. Jimmy Conrad talked to ESPN, Joe Cannon was on Fox Soccer Report, Nick Rimando posted his frustrations on twitter, and William Hesmer talked with the Dispatch. The general tone was the same. MLS isn’t willing to compromise and the players aren’t going to take it any more. They will work up until the latest extension and then consider “all possibilities”. From the player’s side, a strike looms.
It’s also very interesting and concerning that MLS has now gone public with a response. MLS President Mark Abbott countered with the league’s first in depth response throughout the whole negotiations. While the owners promised not to lock out the players, the tone was anything but friendly. The situation is definitely ugly. The owners and players have started negotiating in the press and the latest deadline is only 4 days away. The only silver lining is that there is more than a month until the first MLS game.
There are no positives for the Crew. Columbus will be first hit by the stoppage. Their home Champions League game is only 15 days away. Any interruption in the preseason would be devastating for the Crew’s slim chances of advancing past Toluca. Champions League games have been a focus of the team since the beginning of the 2009 season.
The Crew have already progressed farther than any other MLS team in the competition. Now there is a good chance that the games may not even be played. Champions League games are one of the few tangible ways for the league to prove itself, but now with a work stoppage looming, the game that the players, coaches, staff, and fans have been looking forward to all winter could easily be wiped out and with it the team’s and league’s chance to increase it’s prestige.