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MLS Players Divided On Orlando Tournament Despite CBA Agreement

Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Zac MacMath is one of two RSL players on the bargaining committee, midfielder Nick Besler is the other. After news surfaced early Wednesday (June 3) that MLS and the Players Association had come to an agreement regarding the future of the league in 2020, MacMath shed light on how those conversations went as well as what the future of 2020 looks like for MLS.

Late last week, the Players Association was notified that the club owners had threatened to put the league on lockdown if the Players Association was unable to come to an agreement on the current collective bargaining agreement that was in front of them. They were given until midday of Wednesday, June 3.

MacMath informed local members of the media on a Zoom call that the threat to put the league on lockdown from club owners came due to a deadline that the league had with Disney regarding the Orlando tournament.

The collective bargaining agreement included plans to continue the season in some capacity throughout 2020, guaranteeing the player’s salaries for the foreseeable future as well as other underlying details. The agreement runs through 2025.

When the club owners put the players on notice, the playing group was disappointed. The frustration felt by the players led to a number of them not showing up to voluntary individual workouts at their respective clubs.

Despite the frustration, the conversations intensified and the collective bargaining agreement was ultimately signed by the Players Association on the morning of Wednesday, June 3.

The much speculated Orlando tournament will take place in July. Each team will be segregated to their own hotel and will have no contact with other players or members from other clubs until they meet on the pitch. All 26 MLS teams will travel to Orlando to compete in the tournament. Each team will play three games with the hopes of qualifying to the knockout stages, the opening three games will have regular-season point ramifications. The knockout round matches will not have regular-season points associated with them.

“I hope everyone goes but obviously everyone has there own things to deal with whether it be family or health issues,” MacMath said.

“We are now working with Salt Lake to figure out as a playing group and to try and make sure everyone is comfortable with going. If they are not then those discussions will be held between the player and the team,” MacMath added.

MacMath informed local members of the media that Real Salt Lake was divided on playing in the Orlando tournament. He was unable to specify whether the entire team will travel to compete or if some players will opt-out. Only time will tell.

“We had a lot of guys that didn’t want to do Orlando, didn’t want to take pay cuts, and some just really cared about getting back to a regular season,” said MacMath.

Following the conclusion of the Orlando tournament, it is unclear as to what the future holds for MLS.

The million-dollar question remains unanswered, can the league safely return to a regular season and follow in the footsteps of the Bundesliga and the much-anticipated return of the English Premier League (EPL) on June 17?

“There hasn’t been a formal proposal on how we will return to play when we get back from Orlando,” MacMath said.

Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.

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