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.

Preview: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final

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There will be plenty of 2005 U-17 World Cup final shades at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

On that clear night in Lima, Peru, the likes of Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos wrote history for Mexico, as they powered El Tri to its first-ever World Cup title over a favorite Brazilian side, who was composed of Marcelo, Renato Augusto, and Anderson, in a 3-0 win.

14 years and some change later, both youth powerhouses meet again in the same tournament, for the same silverware, and with the same pressure looming over them from entire nations who expect nothing but excellence from their respective teams.

But of course, to the Brazilians, there is a sense of added pressure given the fact that they’re on home soil.

“We’re familiar with Mexico’s quality,” Brazilian forward, Veron, said ahead of the final. We know they are a great team. But we’re Brazil, and we have five stars on our chest. We intend to play our best match and get the result that makes history.”

As it stands, Mexico is the clear-cut underdog, having barely crept into the knockout stages and being composed of players with far less notoriety to its Brazilian counterpart, who boast three players with three goals or more in the tournament.

That said, Mexico pose as a balanced, reliable, and pragmatic team under coach Marco “Chima” Ruiz. Throughout the six games this tournament, El Tri have found the back of the net 14 times and have conceded a mere three goals (two of which came against Italy). With four goals and two assists in only 344 minutes, Los Angeles Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez has proven to be the team’s most productive player going forward.

Asked who he would rather take between France or Brazil in the final, the Mexican American answered with the same confidence that has made him one of the most exciting players in the tournament.

“It doesn’t matter which of the two it is, we’ll beat them,” he said.

It’s 90 minutes for either team to make history, again. A win for Brazil will raise the number of U-17 stars to four, while Mexico can claim its third with another historic performance. Will Brazil’s high-flying attack crack Mexico’s solid defense? If Alvarez starts, will he rise to the occasion and guide Mexico to another U-17 title?

That has yet to be seen; the second final between two, routine winners awaits the first whistle.

Report: Man City considering Kingsley Coman as Leroy Sane replacement

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Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are considering Bayern Munich’s Kinglsey Coman as a replacement for injured Leroy Sane if he were to leave for the defending German champions over the summer, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sane, who is projected to be out until February or March with an ACL injury, was the subject of a $176 million move to Bayern Munich over the summer, but a move never came to fruition, largely due to the aforementioned injury. If negotiations between Sane’s camp and the defending Bundesliga champions pick up again this summer, City have a replacement in mind: 23-year-old Coman.

Coman, who has played in 10 league games for the Bavarian club this season, was managed by Guardiola during his time with the club and flourished during the title-winning 2015-2016 season. In 2017, the Frenchman revealed that the Spaniard’s departure was tough on him, saying, “I found life easier at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola.”

As expected, Coman is not the only option City are exploring.

Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, who has a reported $82 million release clause, is also on the Premier League giant’s shortlist. Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, has strong ties to La Reala that goes back to his first day in the sport.

At the Etihad, the general feeling from Guardiola’s players is that the German winger is one foot out of England, and is instead focused on a move to Bayern and a return back home. With his contract in the final 12 months this summer, it is expected that the release clause for Sane will not be as lucrative as before. 

In 134 appearances for City, Sane has scored 39 goals, while Coman has scored on 28 different occasions in 139 appearances.

Abidal: Barcelona, Messi negotiating a new deal

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Lionel Messi and his representatives are in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the defending champion’s sporting director Eric Abidal confirmed  to Mundo Deportivo in an exclusive interview.

“They are already talking,” Abidal, the former Barcelona defender, said. “I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible.”

Messi – a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer – joined the club’s well-known academy, La Masia, at the age of 13 and is under contract until 2021 but was recently questioned about his future after Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed that the Argentine can leave Camp Nou on a free transfer due to a clause in his contract.

Asked when he expects an announcement to be made on a new and improved contract, Abidal made it clear he’s unsure but hopes it happens: “It will be known when it is known, but I am positive.”

Throughout seven games in La Liga this season, Messi has scored eight goals and assisted in four occasions. In his latest appearance for the Catalonian side – a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo – the No. 10 scored a first-half hat-trick.

Abidal also confirmed that Barcelona are in talks with breakout teenage starlet Ansu Fati and his camp on a new deal.

“We are also talking to him,” Abidal said. “He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives.”

Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the youngest player in the league’s history to score and assist in the same game.

EURO qualifying wrap: Germany, Austria, Croatia join Netherlands in qualifying

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Like the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Croatia qualified for EURO 2020 after wins on Saturday.

[ READ: Netherlands qualify to first EURO since 2012 ]


Germany 4-0 Belarus

With goals from Matthias Ginter, Leon Goretska, and a second-half brace from Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, Germany routed an uncompetitive Belarus side 4-0 at Borussia-Park. The scoreline, however, should have been more lopsided, as the home side easily won the possession battle and outshot the visitor’s with a total of 31 shots (10 on target). Leaders of Group C, Germany is an early favorite for next summer’s tournament. Not hard to believe that, right? 

Austria 2-1 North Macedonia

Qualifying for Europe’s main tournament is becoming a norm for Austria.

Bayern Munich’s David Alaba scored early while Stefan Lainer added his own three minutes into the second half, as Austria edged North Macedonia 2-1 at Ernst Happel Stadion. Das Team, who stand second in Group G with 19 points after nine games, have now clinched a berth for the EURO on back-to-back occasions.

Croatia 3-1 Slovakia

When all was said and done, Croatia was too much for a 10-man Slovakia, who, initially, broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute.

Bayern Munich’s Ivan Perisic scored the home side’s third and final goal of the match, which punched Croatia’s ticket in next summer’s tournament. Nikola Vlasic and Bruno Petkovic also contributed goals in the second half for Croatia.

Elsewhere

Russia 1-4 Belgium

Azerbaijan 0-2 Wales

Cyprus 1-2 Scotland

Israel 1-2 Poland

Armenia 0-1 Greec