Michael Bradley says free agency 'absolutely' worth an MLS player strike
CARSON, Calif. -- Major League Soccer free agency is an issue worth going on strike over, said Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley, though he remained hopeful a work stoppage wouldn't be necessary.
"The goal is to find a new agreement, one that works for the league and one that works for the players," the U.S. national team player said. "Nobody is sitting here right now saying to themselves, 'We want a work stoppage.' That's not the end goal for anybody."
Bradley's comments are some of the strongest statements yet from any player when it comes to the current collective bargaining negotiations between MLS and the MLS Players Union.
Bradley said that the union membership is firm in its belief that changes need to be made. The union has been very public with its intention to seek greater freedom of movement for its players, and higher salaries, especially for the rank and file.
MLS has long contended that free agency would undermine its ability to compete on the international player market, and thus compromise the cost certainty and single entity structure that it says has been the foundation of the league.
Bradley is one of the league's highest paid players, making $6.5 million in guaranteed compensation last season, yet he indicated he is completely committed to the union's cause.
"Should we get to a point before the season where things and negotiations aren't where they should be, we are ready to strike, and we are united as a group to make real progress in terms of the way players get treated in this league," he said.
The two sides resumed negotiations in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, marking the first face-to-face meeting since the start of the New Year. The current CBA expires at the end of this month, but negotiations are expected to continue right up until the start of the regular season, which is set to take place on March 6.
"We're in no way being greedy," added Bradley. "We want what's best for the league, we want to help this league grow and continue to push forward in every possible way. But it is time for some changes in the way that things are done and I think that in the end we'll find a good way to get all that done."