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As some skeptics write about a potential Major League Soccer strike, it’s become common to say MLS is the only league many of the league’s players could make it in in, as if to say, “Strike here, and you won’t play anywhere.”

To that I say: BS.

No, I’m not saying all MLS players could find clubs abroad. Not too many clubs look for 33-year-old backup midfielders, and MLS has a few of them.

But MLS is no different than other leagues in this regard. Could every player in first division leagues in Denmark, Chile or Ghana find a club abroad? Not likely. Yet these are all World Cup-bound nations. MLS may not be the English Premier League, but after just 15 years, it can compete with second-tier premier leagues around the world. So can its players.

Just take a look at Philadelphia Union’s roster, and you can see pretty clearly that most of the team either has played in a foreign league or could do so if MLS disappeared. And because I was looking for some almost-happy soccer topic to counter the doom-and-gloom all about, I did.

(Remember, this is purely hypothetical, basically a parlor game, because I don’t think MLS goes poof any time soon. Basically, this is one of those “Stop hating on MLS quality” columns, in addition to striking down a false argument.)

Chris Seitz

A 2008 Olympian with youth international experience. The U.S. has a track record of producing starting goalkeepers for English Premier League clubs (Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Marcus Hahnemann, etc.), and Seitz may be the best American goalie prospect since Brad Guzan, who’s now at Aston Villa. Seitz could land at a lower-tier English club or in Scandinavia.

Danny Califf

He’s already served as captain and vice captain for Danish sides FC Midtjylland and Aalborg BK and has 23 national team caps. Enough said.

Shavar Thomas

The Jamaican national teamer could surely find a club in the Caribbean to sign with, even if in his home country’s small league. Continue Reading »

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Sounders Insider reports that the Players Union strike “will be effective 12:01 a.m. March 23 if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached with the league.”

The media fallout from the news that the MLS Players Union has voted to strike is ongoing. There is some discrepancy in the numbers: while some report that the vote is 350 to 2 in favor of a strike, apparently based on the Washington Post saying “more than 350” supported the strike, seattlepi.com puts the number at 383-2, noting that the numbers are “more than the typical roster limit in the league, because clubs have not trimmed back rosters since no agreement is in place.” Here’s some of the best of the web so far:

In an open letter to the MLS and the Players Union about the possible strike, Match Fit USA talks to the Sons of Ben.

Amid all of the strike talk, let us not forget that, on Sunday at 7 p.m., the Union will face a MLS club for the first time in team history when they play FC Dallas at the University of Tampa’s Pepin Stadium.

Seattle Sounders poor pre season form, Philadelphia Independence video, Landon Donovan, Charlie Davies comeback, and Manchester United gag players after the jump. Continue Reading »

As reported by The News Tribune and Soccer By Ives, Bob Fosse, head of the Players Union, has issued the following statement in response to the assertion by the MLS that comments by players regarding the strike vote are unproductive.

“Recent comments from players simply reflect the fact that the players are unified and, per the results of our strike vote, will not begin the new season if a new agreement with the league is not reached.  This is not a change in position by the Union and should not be read to reflect in any way upon what has, or has not, occurred this week in the meetings with the mediator and the league.”

MLS released the following statement to Seattlepi.com in response to reports that the Players Union has voted overwhelmingly to strike if a new contract is not in place before March 25 season opener between the Seattle Sounders and Philadelphia Union:

Major League Soccer’s negotiating team, including Commissioner Garber, met for three days this week with the leadership of the Players Union together with George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

We have an understanding with the Union and the mediator that we will not publicly discuss what takes places during these bargaining sessions.

As such, we were disappointed to see comments from a number of players characterizing the status of the negotiations and the possibility of a strike.

The meetings this week were productive and we have scheduled a number of additional meetings. And while we can’t discuss what occurs across the bargaining table, we do believe that the players’ comments do not accurately reflect the proposals that we have made to address the players’ concerns or the productive nature of the discussions between MLS and the Players Union.”

Before information about the vote to strike was first reported by the Washington Post late Thursday afternoon, the Boston Globe published an article placing the potential impact of a strike in historical context. In 1979 players in the North American Soccer League went on strike at the peak of the League’s popularity. The NASL folded in 1984.

Major League Soccer players voted to strike March 25 if they can agree on a labor compact with the league, the Washington Post reported today.

The players voted 383-2  to strike if there remains no deal on opening day, when Philadelphia Union visits the Seattle Sounders. No official word yet from the league or the union.

Philly's unions are infamous. Read on.

Philadelphia Union sounds like a great name for a club, absent of context.

Too bad about the context.

A PSP reader sent me an email today titled, “Is my Seattle trip in jeopardy?”

He plans to fly to Seattle to catch the Union’s first match on March 25 against the Sounders. Now, he suspects there won’t be a game, thanks to the increasing likelihood that a players strike could delay the season after players and management left the bargaining table Wednesday without a new collective bargaining agreement.

So will they get a deal done? It’s 50-50. Labor negotiations often go down to a key deadline, because pressure increases on both sides to compromise. The key issue remains free agency, with players now unable to freely join another MLS club even if they’re released. If they strike, nobody loses like Philadelphia.

The sad thing is that Philadelphia sports fans should have known something like this was coming. Life as a Philly fan is a continuous cycle of kidney punches that hit you when you least expect it, but the bottom line is that you always should. It’s like Charlie Brown repeatedly going to kick that field goal, only to have Lucy pull the ball at the last moment. Continue Reading »

Two weeks after its debut, Fox Soccer Plus still isn't available in Philadelphia for Comcast subscribers.

If you are a Comcast subscriber in the Philadelphia area you are about to enter your third weekend without Fox Soccer Plus. The new channel, which began broadcasting on March 1, replaced Setanta USA, which had previously only been available in two or three select Comcast markets.

Without Fox Soccer Plus you’ve missed Portsmouth’s FA Cup victory over Birmingham. You’ve missed having the choice of watching Lyon stick it to Real Madrid live at 2:30 p.m. in the Champions League rather than having to wait for the delayed broadcast at 5pm on FSC. This weekend you will miss a classic London derby between West Ham and Chelsea as well as Manchester United against Fulham. Next Sunday you will miss Manchester United against Liverpool.

Of course, if you subscribe to Direct TV or Dish Network, you already have Fox Soccer Plus.

So what’s the deal with Comcast? Continue Reading »