MLS reportedly reaches labor deal

Two days before the scheduled start of the season, Major League Soccer reportedly reached a labor agreement with the MLS Players Union to avoid a strike, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

Details of the agreement weren’t immediately known, but an announcement reportedly was expected Wednesday night.

Real Salt Lake goalie Nick Rimando, part of the players’ negotiating team, tweeted, “Play ball.”

The union was threatening a work stoppage, with the right to free agency being among its chief demands.

In previous talks over recent weeks, team owners were barely budging on free agency, suggesting that only players who have 10 years of service with the same club and are 32 years old can decide which team to play for.

Owners feared free agency would escalate salaries, although the league has a salary cap.

Unlike other major U.S. sports leagues, MLS players are under contract to the league and not individual teams. In the last round of negotiations five years ago, the players union convinced the league to allow a re-entry draft for players who accumulated service time with their specific team.

MLS never has never experienced a work stoppage in its 20-year history.

The reigning MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy are scheduled to face the Chicago Fire on Friday in the season opener in Carson, Calif.

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