Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber is confident the start of the season will not be affected by a strike, while insisting Tuesday there won’t be a quick-fix deal with the players.
The league’s first collective bargaining agreement expired Thursday after the sides twice extended the five-year deal, which originally was to have run out Jan. 31.
The MLS Players Union failed to match league management’s no-lockout pledge with a no-strike offer, leaving the start of the season on March 25 in doubt.
“We will not lock them out, and we are confident they will not go on strike,” Garber said at the SoccerEx convention in Manchester, England, on Tuesday. “We will not make any decisions just to avoid a work stoppage. We’ve got to make decisions that will ensure the long-term financial success of the MLS, and I’m sure we will not make any decisions to prove a point.
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“I don’t think any of our players want to go on strike, and we are taking their issues very seriously. The expectations are that the season will start on time, and the expectation is that will be reach agreement with our players.”
The Philadelphia Union plays at Seattle in the MLS opener on March 25, and Garber acknowledges that talks could go on until then.
“It’s conceivable, but my expectation is not to be negotiating an agreement an hour before kickoff,” Garber said. “I would describe these as big-league problems. Years ago, we had nothing to fight about, so we didn’t have labor issues.
“Now that the league is growing and there is a bit more at stake, the players want to see improvement in their salaries and their working conditions. And we need to understand, we need to listen and take their issues into consideration.”
U.S. team hires assistant
Former Czechoslovakia star Lubos Kubik, who played against the United States at the 1990 World Cup, has been hired as an assistant coach of the American national team.
Kubik fills one of two spots that opened when Peter Nowak resigned last year to become coach of Major League Soccer’s expansion Philadelphia Union and John Hackworth left to become Nowak’s assistant with the Union.
Brazil beats Ireland
Brazil defeated Ireland, 2-0, in a World Cup warmup match in London, getting an own-goal by Keith Andrews followed by Robinho’s goal in the second half.
Exactly 100 days before the World Cup opener, Brazil produced an impressive second-half display .
Tickets for the Seattle Sounders’ season and home opener on March 25 against the first-year Philadelphia Union are sold out, the Sounders announced. The May 8 game against the Los Angeles Galaxy is also a sellout. ... D.C. United defender Marc Burch will be sidelined four months following foot surgery, and midfielder Clyde Simms will be out four weeks after a knee operation. ... Paraguayan forward Salvador Cabanas has been moved from a Mexico City hospital to a clinic as he recovers from a Jan. 25 shooting.