Implications of Possible MLS Strike Concern Players

TAMPA, Florida — United States
striker Brian Ching is worried a possible Major League Soccer strike
could hurt the chances of domestic-based players to make the World Cup
squad.

The MLS' first strike became a
possibility after players failed to match league management's
no-lockout pledge with a no-strike offer during labor talks this week.

The league's first collective
bargaining agreement expired Jan. 31, and the sides twice extended
bargaining, with the latest additional time running out Thursday.

Players say they want increased free-agent rights and more guaranteed contracts, which the league says it is unable to offer.

"If we're not playing games week in
and week out, that puts us at a big disadvantage," Ching said Wednesday
after helping the U.S. rally past El Salvador 2-1 in an international
friendly. "Hopefully, it doesn't happen."

MLS president Mark Abbott said last
weekend the league will not lock out players and is prepared to start
the season under the terms and conditions of the expired five-year
contract.

An MLS strike could postpone the first game of new team the Philadelphia Union and the official opening of Red Bull Arena.

While the league season is due to
start March 25, when Philadelphia Union travels to Seattle, Columbus
hosts Mexican club Toluca on March 9 in the quarterfinals of the
CONCACAF Champions League, then plays the second leg at the Mexican
club eight days later.

CONCACAF, the regional governing
body, isn't sure how it would deal with a strike, whether it would
cause a postponement or a forfeit.

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