Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Larentowicz’

All the talk about a Major League Soccer strike or lockout may come down to a single concept: Free agency.

Larentowicz, trapped in contract limbo

Right now, MLS players can’t sign with another MLS team after their contracts expire unless their team lets them. That’s why a guy like West Chester’s Jeff Larentowicz needed a trade to leave New England, despite having played out his contract. No major American sports league or foreign soccer league restricts their players like this.

That’s why there could be a lockout or strike when the current MLS collecting bargaining agreement expires on Jan. 31,  delaying or even ending Philadelphia Union’s inaugural season before it starts.

Players say the league flouts FIFA regulations on player contracts. The league says FIFA is OK with them. FIFA avoided the dispute, likely because it’s largely irrelevant in this case. Why?

European leagues are not the model for MLS. The NFL is. With stable, profitable franchises and competitive parity, the NFL has no Portsmouth or Leeds collapsing into financial oblivion. Even small market teams like Jacksonville and Buffalo compete. To succeed long-term, the MLS must become like the NFL, with its revenue sharing, player acquisition system, stadium controls and competitive parity.

MLS has followed nearly every best practice of American sports leagues, but it holds onto an anachronistic sports management concept by not allowing free agency. This is basically the same as baseball’s old reserve clause, which was struck down by a court arbitrator in 1975. MLS may have already won in court, but American sports history shows that means little. Baseball and football players eventually won free agency, but they needed labor battles to get there.

MLS players have one good argument: Free agency. Their other points don’t fly in American sports. Here’s why and how it breaks down.



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Nick Rimando’s most amazing feat wasn’t that he stopped three penalty kicks to send Real Salt Lake to the MLS Cup.

It was that the RSL goalkeeper “guessed” right on six of seven shots.

Rimando reads penalty kicks so well that it’s clearly not guesswork for him. He went the right way on all but one Saturday night, even if he couldn’t get a hand on each. That ability could decide this Sunday’s championship match against the Los Angeles Galaxy and affect the pace of the game.


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