Good news and bad news on the MLS front late Wednesday:
The good news is the referees’ labor dispute is over. The bad news is the league’s participation in the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League is also over.
The Professional Soccer Referees Association and Professional Referee Organization reached a deal on their first collective bargaining agreement, ending an impasse that led to replacement officials working the first two weeks of the regular season. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service facilitated the deal, which was tentatively agreed upon Tuesday, approved by the PSRA’s board of directors Wednesday and ratified by the membership Wednesday night. Terms were not disclosed.
With the ratification, PRO ended the lockout, allowing regular referees to return to work as early as this weekend.
On the dark side, the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City met the same quarterfinal fate as the Los Angeles Galaxy the night before, losing in Mexico.
The Earthquakes played Toluca to a 1-1 draw (2-2 aggregate, 1-1 away goals) but, after an apparent goal was disallowed in extra time, they fell on penalty kicks, 5-4. Sporting was blasted by Cruz Azul, 5-1, for a 5-2 aggregate defeat.
An MLS club has not won the regional title since the Champions League format was implemented in 2008-09 and hasn’t claimed the CONCACAF trophy since the Galaxy 14 years ago. Since then, an MLS team has advanced to the final just once (Real Salt Lake in 2010-11).
The 2014-15 tournament will begin in August with Sporting, the Portland Timbers, New York Red Bulls and D.C. United representing MLS.
San Jose-Toluca highlights:
Sporting-Cruz Azul highlights: