With the start of the 2015 MLS season on the horizon, the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and the league and owners looms large. As such, D.C. United captain Bobby Boswell spoke at lengths after practice on Monday on the current situation between the players and the league.
"We have all the guys here, with the full expectation that it will go the distance," Boswell said of ongoing meetings between the players and the league and a coalition of owners taking place in the District. "When I say I'm optimistic [about avoiding a work stoppage] even though we might not necessarily be in total agreement on some of the key issues, it looks like everyone is willing to work and put the time in. People aren't throwing chairs or anything like that."
Yesterday, the two sides met in the nation's capital, trying to hash a deal out. Midfielder Chris Rolfe skipped practice today to represent United at the meetings, and Boswell was joining the meetings after he left RFK Stadium. Another meeting is set for Tuesday, as the two sides hope to prevent the first work stoppage in league history.
The main sticking point continues to be the players insistence on free agency. But after Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen was fined last week for saying that free agency would be a non starter in MLS, Boswell had some insight into why the owners were pushing back against the players.
"They say philosophically, that's not what the owners bought into," Boswell told media on Monday. "I'm not an owner, so I don't know what they were pitched or posed, but they say that's not the concept the league was founded on. And that's the sentiment that they have echoed to us. They bought into a system of single entity, and that they control the deals and that's what they would like to continue to do."
Theoretically, a Wednesday night deadline would be the time when a work stoppage might commence. With the first kick scheduled for Friday night when the Chicago Fire travel to play the LA Galaxy, Chicago would likely head out then or Thursday morning for the game. Without a deal in place, no team would travel for their weekend game.
"Our goal is to get as much done right now, trying to get it all sorted and worked out," Boswell added. "Everyone is trying to get a deal done, but the ideas we have, have to align so that we feel the deal is good for us, and they [the league] feel the deal is good for them."