Who, if anybody, won the CBA negotiations in MLS: The players or the league?

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Late on Wednesday a crisis was averted in Major League Soccer as the league and the MLS Players Union (MLSPU) agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) through the 2019 season.

[ RELATED: MLS strike averted ]

Soccer fans in North America, your domestic top-flight is ready to kick off on Friday for the 2015 season.

[ RELATED: Cameron’s thoughts on CBA ]

Relief was the buzzword as meetings in Washington D.C. went down to the wire, but with plenty of the details still to be revealed publicly, many are wondering which side, if any, won with the new CBA done and dusted.

[ RELATED: Players have resolve in CBA battle ]

Here’s a look at some of the key factors in the deal which have leaked out so far…

  • Length: The new CBA is a five-year deal, which is what the players wanted after the league dug their heels in for a seven-year deal.
  • Minimum salary: The new minimum salary in the league is up from $36,500 to $60,000, which is one of the main areas MLSPU wanted to improve. They got that done.
  • Free agency: Ah, this was the main sticking point as the players had to settle for a form of restricted free agancy many would see as being a league win. Only players aged over 28 and have given MLS eight-years service would be able to select which club they move to next. It’s a start, but certainly not what players were hoping for.
  • Salary cap: There is a 15 percent increase in the salary cap, which although seems modest, it wasn’t one of the sticking points as the Designated Player rule continues to have added importance around the league.

So, who are the winners? Many would argue that the league got a better deal here, but it is worth noting that a strike from the players was very likely as little as 12 hours before the deal was signed.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS previews for 2015

Sources confirmed to PST on Tuesday that both sides were still far apart on several key issues and that “it was not looking great” for the 2015 MLS season. However, with the new season just hours away, MLS came back with an improved offer on free agency — previously players over the age 32 and having 10 years of experience at one club (so, basically just Brad Davis) was the only caveat being offered by the league when it came to free agency — and a vote by MLSPU was hardly unanimous but enough players voted in favor and here we are. Let’s play ball.

source: AP
Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey will square off in 2015. But who won the CBA battle?

The true is, both sides eventually gave something up and even though they will feel slightly aggrieved to not get exactly what they wanted from the CBA deal (especially the players), we have MLS back on the schedule for one of the most eagerly anticipated campaign in its 20-year history. MLS seems to have won, right now. But long-term, we will still see plenty of talents (see: Sporting KC’s Erik Palmer-Brown rumored switch to Juventus) head overseas at a young age where contract restrictions aren’t as severe as they are in MLS. More young American and Canadian soccer players will continue to move away from their domestic league despite the increase in the minimum salary.

Overall, soccer in North America was the big winner in this CBA battle, as a work stoppage or a lockout would have harmed the league’s reputation domestically and globally. That crisis has been averted, for now, but in five years time the next CBA will be even more crucial to their future of this young league as MLS budging on free agency this time leads us to believe that more is to follow ahead of the 2020 season. Plus, new franchises in New York, LA, Atlanta and possibly Miami could see the landscape of the next CBA shift dramatically.

Have your say in the comments section below, as I’m sure plenty of you are relieved to see that MLS and the MLSPU have resolved their difference just in the nick of time.

Brazilian player Taison banned in Ukraine for response to racism

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Brazilian player Taison has been banned for one game for his reaction to racist abuse in a Ukrainian league game.

The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder showed his middle finger to Dynamo Kyiv fans who had abused him with monkey chants and kicked the ball into the stands during a game Nov. 10. Taison was shown a red card.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

The Ukrainian Football Association ordered Taison to serve a one-game ban plus a suspended two-game ban.

Dynamo has been fined 500,000 hryvnyas ($20,000) and ordered to play one game behind closed doors. Another one-game sanction is suspended.

World players’ union FIFPro says “sanctioning a victim of racial abuse is beyond comprehension and it plays into the hands of those who promote this kind of disgraceful behavior.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

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Yes, Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League and, sure, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini are in managerial hot seats, but is there any match more intriguing than Man City and Chelsea squaring off with the knowledge that a bad outcome could see them double digits out of first?

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.


The Jose Mourinho Era begins against a familiar foe

  • West Ham v. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have matched wits many times, which could help the former in his bid to get ready for a rankled Spurs side to kickstart the Premier League weekend.

Mourinho has only matched up with six managers more than Pellegrini in his career, and boasts a 7W-3D-4L record. Can he quickly get Spurs put together for a visit to a desperate Irons side.


Chelsea, Man City put slim title hopes on the line

  • Manchester City v. Chelsea — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC

Both Pep Guardiola‘s City and Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea have lost to Liverpool, meaning their chances to directly affect the Reds’ title hopes are limited. Matches like this one are the ones that get the Reds salivating, in fact, knowing that only one team can snare three points.

City enters the day nine points back of first and a point behind Chelsea and Leicester City. The Top Four race sure looks clear cut right now — the chasing pack is eight points behind fourth — but failure to win on Saturday will likely leave either side double-digit points back of first.


Knock off the Red Devils? Wilder things have happened

  • Sheffield United v. Manchester United — Sunday, 11:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has the newly-promoted side in fifth place on the table, one point better than his celebrated visitors. The Blades will sit no worse than five points back of the Top Four if they can beat Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Red Devils, adding another big name to a season of results which already includes a defeat of Arsenal and draws against Chelsea and Spurs. United is still without Paul Pogba and now will also miss Scott McTominay. Another upset brewing?


Reds hope to get back to business as usual in title fight

  • Crystal Palace v. Liverpool — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

A week removed from a glitzy show against Man City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds now visit a Palace side who is probably getting sick of facing the Premier League’s best. Roy Hodgson‘s table rise has been stunted by a four-match winless run that includes 2-0 losses to Man City, Leicester City, and Chelsea to go with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

A Liverpool win will boost it clearer of Man City and/or Chelsea, as the Reds seek a double-digit lead on the field (Second-place Leicester City is away to Brighton and Hove Albion).


Arsenal looks to right wobbly league ship versus slumping Saints

  • Arsenal v. Southampton — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Unai Emery‘s Gunners may be doing fine in the Europa League, but they’ve taken just two points from 12 since an Oct. 6 defeat of Bourrnemouth at the Emirates Stadium. Saints only win since mid-September in any competition is a 4-0 demolition of rivals Portsmouth. If Arsenal cannot get right here, well…

The 2 Robbies break down Tottenham’s big switch from Poch to Mou

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Maybe you saw the firing of Mauricio Pochettino coming, and maybe you even though Jose Mourinho could be in the running to take his place, but the whole thing happening in rapid fire fashion calls for something different.

Call it an emergency podcast for The 2 Robbies.

[ MORE: Ederson back in training ]

Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle respond to the shocking and divisive news coming from North London earlier this week.

Tottenham Hotspur sacked Pochettino and quickly replaced him with The Special One. This episode also includes some of Jose’s first words as the new Spurs Head Coach.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs

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Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff have left Tottenham Hotspur, but not without fond words for the North London set.

Pochettino’s backroom staff was also dismissed, with assistant Jesus Perez and coaches Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez leaving to make room for Jose Mourinho’s crew.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

And Perez wanted to make sure that the world knew the final words Pochettino left for his players, something that has Tottenham supporters even more emotional.

It also surely plays as a political piece which will increase the villain status of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who’s been under fire for not helping Pochettino by selling players who did not want to be in North London.

Even Mourinho heaped praise on his predecessor.

“Mauricio, for the work he did, this club will be always his home,” Mourinho said. “He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he work with. The door is always open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”

Get your tissues, Spurs fans.