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.

Chelsea Ladies sign NWSL superstar Sam Kerr

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Sam Kerr is heading to London.

The Australian megastar is leaving the Chicago Red Stars for Chelsea after scoring two MVP awards in the National Women’s Soccer League (2017, 2019).

[ MORE: NYCFC teen off to Gladbach ]

Kerr, 26, has 38 goals in 83 caps for the Lady Matildas, scoring four times in one World Cup match against Jamaica last summer.

Her 69 goals are the most in an NWSL career, and she admits it was a challenge to leave her comfort zone and head to Europe.

“Probably the part that was most difficult was leaving friends and the US because I’ve created such a home there, but it was just time for me to make a change. And once I had my eyes set on Europe, it was kind of an easy decision to choose Chelsea as a club.”

It’s a huge signing for Chelsea, who is leading the table through five matches with an unbeaten 4W-1D record. She’ll join the team in January.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says goodbye to the LA Galaxy

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bid adieu to Major League Soccer, thanking the LA Galaxy for “making me feel alive again.”

The Swedish superstar averaged nearly a goal per game with the Galaxy, and was rumored to be in line for another two years at the club.

[ MORE: Columbus acquires Nagbe ]

Perhaps those reports, and maybe AC Milan’s struggles to score goals, have made more suitors come forward. Time will tell.

The Galaxy said the decision was a “mutual parting of ways” and thanked the player for his work both on and off the pitch.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“We would like to thank Zlatan for his contributions to the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles. We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole.”

Zlatan’s full thoughts, below, were a bit more Zlatanny.

Klein will have his hands full in replacing Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 times in 53 matches, but the Galaxy have always managed to bring in big names.

Getting a star playmaker is even more important as El Trafico rivals LAFC have rewritten the MLS record book and snared plenty of attention in California and across the league.

Columbus acquires Nagbe from Atlanta for $1M in allocation

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Darlington Nagbe is headed for a reunion with old boss Caleb Porter.

Columbus has sent over $1 million in allocation money to Atlanta United in order to claim the influential midfielder.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

Porter coached Nagbe at the University of Akron and the Portland Timbers, and has 25 USMNT caps but has turned down Gregg Berhalter’s requests for service.

Nagbe made 46 appearances across all competitions for the Five Stripes this season, scoring twice with five assists. He has 313 matches played between Portland and Atlanta.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Darlington Nagbe is a proven winner and the type of player who can be a difference-maker in our team,” Crew SC president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “In addition to his skill set, we believe that Darlington is someone whose character and values fit well within our organization. As we stated heading into this offseason, we continue to look both domestically and internationally for players that will make our team better, and we believe Darlington is an important part of those efforts.”

It’s a bold statement from Columbus, who had a reputation for getting the most of its talent under Berhalter but faded under Porter after a hot start. The Crew began 2019 with a 4-1-1 record but lost 13 of its next 15 matches.

Of course, being MLS, the Crew then only lost 2 of their final 13 matches. Shoulder shrug emoji.

NYCFC teen agrees move to Borussia Monchengladbach

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New York City FC’s impressive academy has earned one of the bigger transfer market payoffs in MLS Homegrown history, and will join the current Bundesliga leaders after next season.

Joe Scally, 16, is headed to Borussia Monchengladbach on a $2 million transfer with a sell-on clause, and will spend the 2020 MLS season with his boyhood club. Scally has played in the Open Cup, but has not debuted in an MLS match.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

The $2 million figure is on the edge of Top 30 for departing MLS players, according to Transfermarkt, just behind Cyle Larin’s move from Orlando City to Besiktas.

Scally appeared 11 times for the U.S. U-17 national team, going 90 minutes in all three matches and assisting on the lone American goal at the World Cup in Brazil.

From Borussia.de:

“Joe Scally is a top American talent who we have been following for a long time. We see a lot of potential in Joe and we are looking forward to him joining up with us in January 2021. Until then, we will work together with New York City FC to prepare him for his move to Germany,” said Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl.

Not sure just how long they could’ve been following a 16-year-old, but we digress.

Scally will join U-17 teammates Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg) on the books at a Bundesliga club. Recent U-17 call-ups Pablo Soares (Gladbach) and Noah Jones (RB Leipzig) are also with clubs in Germany’s top flight.

Last month, NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna told me that Scally was the perfect example of a young player trusting a club’s preference of changing his position.

“The perfect example is Joe Scally on the U-17 World Cup team. He came to us from a club in Long Island as an athletic box-to-box midfielder. He was very strong, but we saw him as an outside back. The lesson that we now we share that with our players, don’t get upset if you move to a position, but Joe Scally understood, never complained, he played wherever he was told to do, and now he’s a right back now, 16 years old going to the World Cup after being in our academy for two and a half years.”

Looks like it’s worked out.