MLS agreement reached; crisis averted

In a close call, Landon Donovan and MLS averted a strike.
In a close call, Landon Donovan and MLS averted a strike. (Luis M. Alvarez/associated Press)
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Monday, March 22, 2010

"Where have you gone, Landon Donovan?/

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you/

(woo, woo, woo)"

In a world gone mad, on a planet spinning violently out of control, the country woke up the other morning to face the unthinkable:

No Major League Soccer.

MLS players voted to strike if a new collective bargaining agreement was not reached by this week, with the league's season opener scheduled for Thursday. Meaning that, for the first time since its inception in 1996, we would be MLS-less and hopeless.

No MLS? Why don't you just take away 7-Elevens, sunsets and our most basic freedoms?

Just a year ago, 6,524 fans in Dallas gathered for the Chivas USA-FC Dallas match; what would they do now? Just a year ago, 6,922 congregated in Kansas City for the Earthquakes-Wizards match; what would they do now? Just last November, 7,416 souls poured into New England for a Fire-Revolution playoff game; what would they do now?

Sure, U.S. sports fans faced a truncated NFL season in 1982 and 1987, a canceled World Series in 1994, even an entire NHL season wiped out in 2004-05.

But this was different. This is Major League Soccer, a way of life in dozens of homes in dozens of communities from Poughkeepsie to Pasadena.

Thankfully, an agreement was reached Saturday, with talks supervised by George H. Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. After helping avert an MLS strike, Cohen then went home and replaced the filter in his furnace.

I'm happy for the people of Philadelphia. The city that gave birth to the American Revolution had been without Major League Soccer for more than three centuries; it finally landed an MLS franchise in 2010 only to see a work stoppage threaten its good fortune.

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