MLS makes first statements on possible lockout

As Major League Soccer celebrated its annual SuperDraft at the Pennsylvania Convention Center yesterday, MLS commissioner Don Garber made his first official statement about the elephant in the room - a possible player lockout.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires on Jan. 31. Last week, FIFPro, soccer's international union, reported the league was threatening to lock out its players if they did not agree to continue under a similar contract.

"Everything so far is positive," Garber said when asked about a lockout threat. "We're going to try to reach an agreement that's good for the management but also good for the players."

Garber said he met with representatives of the MLS Players Union last Friday and again on Wednesday. The two sides plan to meet in Washington next Wednesday.

"And we'll meet as much as we need to, to try to reach a deal," Garber said.

U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, who attended yesterday's draft, declined to comment on the negotiations.

"I'm not going to comment on hypotheticals," Gulati said. "The parties are talking, and hopefully they'll get something done."

Bob Foose, executive director of the MLS Players Union, did not respond to an e-mail yesterday.

MLS players sign with the league rather than the individual clubs. FIFPro said almost 80 percent of MLS players do not have guaranteed contracts, and that they do not have freedom of movement once their contracts expire.

Before forming a union, MLS players filed a federal antitrust suit against the league. A jury ruled against the players in 2000.