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Strike looms over opening week of MLS season

Hard to get excited about games that may not even happen.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

MLS opens on Friday and the Crew SC play on Saturday; it's just days until the Black and Gold kick off the 2015 season... if the Collective Bargaining Agreement is hammered out in time. The MLS Players Union and the league haven't agreed to a new deal and time is running short. No deal - no games.

Union leadership is assembling in Washington D.C. this week to meet with league representatives in hopes of hammering out a deal. Don Garber mentioned in an interview on Friday that New England Revolution owner Jonathan Kraft, FC Dallas owner Clark Hunt, and Vancouver Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot have joined the talks. A federal mediator has been working through the issues with both sides for several weeks.

First the good news, the sides have reached agreements on some issues, they just happen to be minor items. The bad news, both sides are dug in on free agency. The players are holding the line that they need the ability to control where they play. The league and ownership are dead set against that, with Real Salt Lake investor operator Dell Loy Hansen calling that topic a "waste of time". Neither side is publicly budging.

It's possible that ownership may be trying to craft some free agency workaround, but that method failed as the Re-Entry draft forged out of the 2010 talks hasn't fostered player movement in any significant way. The union likely won't be mollified by a similar solution if one is offered. If both sides are committed privately as much as they are publicly to their stance on free agency then a strike appears unavoidable.

If a deal isn't reached by midweek, then the players reportedly won't board planes for away games. That essentially starts the strike and delays the 2015 season. With as little as 72 hours to make a deal, the odds of starting the season are getting longer by the hour.