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MLS strike could threaten D.C. United's CCL hopes

If the MLS Players Union should strike, it might cost the league more than just a couple of missed games.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

With no collective bargaining agreement in place, and with at least one veteran reporter saying he thinks there is a better than 50/50 chance that there will be a strike, it is time to look at the implications that strike might have on D.C. United's season. We have no idea yet if MLS would try to rebalance the schedule should games be missed, but that sounds rather difficult to do after the season has already started.

United opens the season at home against the Montreal Impact on March 7, three days after playing the return leg at home against LD Alajuelense. They then travel to New York to face the Red Bulls and then welcome the Los Angeles Galaxy to town. The team continues to alternate home and away games until the middle of April, when they have back to back home games against New York and the Houston Dynamo. Should any potential strike get to May, the league, players, and season have much bigger problems, but United has a three game homestand that could be threatened. Needless to say, a strike that long seems unlikely to me. Overall, any cancelled games early in the season seem to be a wash for D.C. United, who would have a basically equal number of home and away games cancelled.

A much bigger scheduling concern would arise if D.C. United were to advance against LD Alajuelense and then the MLS Players Union went on strike. The first leg of the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League is scheduled for between March 17 and March 19, which is still early enough that a strike might not be resolved. While missing the opening two weeks of games would be bad for the league, the threat of forcing either United or Montreal Impact to forfeit CCL games would be a powerful bargaining chip. The League has put a lot of effort into promoting MLS success in this competition, and they obviously see it as a key marker of MLS's growth. Should United do its part and advance, will the two sides let their game be cancelled?