Despite the fact that MLS and its owners had called free agency a complete non-starter, the rumors that are flying out of the MLS CBA talks seem to indicate that progress has been made a some sort of free agency, and that the owners have already moved from their first offer to second and further offers. While all of this progress is being made on the free agency front, Steve Goff and others are reporting that MLS wants this to be a long-term deal rather than a 4 to 5 year deal. But regardless of where the talks end up, and things will be constantly changing between now and then, should the players work hard until the last minute and then take whatever deal is on the table?
Right now, owners in places like Orlando and New York City are likely fretting up a storm, worrying that their opening matches might be cancelled. Orlando City has sold over 60,000 tickets to the opening match, and losing that game would be a PR disaster for them. Both teams are apparently pushing the league office hard to get a deal done, and are probably two of the biggest advocates for a quick deal in the room. And that's not even to mention the new TV deal, which Fox and ESPN have been putting ad money into and want to inaugurate this weekend.
However, if the MLS players go on strike, that support from within evaporates. The various cliques within the owners go away, and they will prove a more unified front in ongoing negotiations. The best deal that the players are going to get is what is on the table when those 60,000 fans are still in the stands and there are still nationally televised games to be played this weekend. Once a strike starts and everything becomes indefinite, the consequences are less immediate.
Overall, I think this actually gives me hope that a deal will get done. How are you feeling right now?