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MLS reaches deal with players to avert strike

05 March 2015, 08:08

Washington - Major League Soccer and its players struck a deal "in principle" on a new collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday to avoid a work stoppage two days before the start of the season, MLS chief Don Garber said.

Garber confirmed to Reuters the MLS Players Union (MLSPU) and the league had reached agreement after a day-long round of negotiations at the Washington offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

"I am pleased to announce we have reached an agreement in principle with our union," Garber told Reuters.

"We are not going into details tonight but it is great to be able to continue the momentum that we have been able to build for this league and do it in partnership with our players."

With the 20th MLS season scheduled to open on Friday, labor talks were expected to go down to the wire as the two sides worked to hammer out a new five-year deal to replace the previous agreement which expired on Jan. 31.

"The deal is done," Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, the team's union representative, told Reuters as he left the talks.

The main sticking point in the talks appeared to be the players' demand for the introduction of free agency.

Players had threatened to strike if their demands were not met.

Also read: Australia break World Cup record

ESPN reported that there had been some movement towards an agreement on Tuesday with MLS offering free agency to players at least 28-years-old with eight years in the league.

The defending champion LA Galaxy are scheduled to open the season on Friday against the visiting Chicago Fire.

Among the scheduled games for Sunday, two MLS teams will make their debuts as New York City FC travel to Orlando City, who have sold 60,000 tickets for the clash at the Citrus Bowl.

"We are pleased to finally turn our fans attention back to our players and the competition on the field as we get started on the 2015 season," Bob Foose, executive director of the MLS Players Union, said in a statement.

- Reuters

Tags mls soccer

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