Michael Bradley: MLS players willing to strike over free agency as CBA talks continue

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As you may have heard for a while now, players in Major League Soccer are getting serious about the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with the league as the current CBA runs out at the end of January.

Talks between the two sides resumed in Washington D.C. this week as many discussions will take place between the MLS Players Union and the league between now and the start of the 2015 season on March 6. Two of the many sticking points for players, as CBA talks continue behind-the-scenes, is to increase the minimum salary in the league and to also bring in free agency for players who are out of contract.

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During the MLS media tour out in California over the past few days, prominent MLS and U.S. national team players have been sharing their thoughts on the negotiations. Speaking to assembled journalists, including ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, here’s what USMNT and Toronto FC star Michael Bradley had to say about the impending threat of a player strike and how it can be avoided.

“The goal is to find a new agreement, one that works for the league and one that works for the players,” Bradley said. “Nobody is sitting here right now saying to themselves, ‘We want a work stoppage.’ That’s not the end goal for anybody.”

The MLS Players Union are standing firm that players across the board, but especially those in the lower echelons, should get a pay hike, especially after the league just signed a new TV deal with Fox Sports and ESPN plus plenty of star players like Frank Lampard, David Villa, Steven Gerrard, Sebastian Giovinco and Kaka enter the league on huge Designated Player contracts.

Bradley went on to say that he believed things would be figured out in everyone’s best interest before the start of the season, but he did reveal that the players are willing to strike before the 2015 season begins if an agreement cannot be reached.

“Should we get to a point before the season where things and negotiations aren’t where they should be, we are ready to strike,” Bradley said. “And we are united as a group to make real progress in terms of the way players get treated in this league.”