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Commissioner Garber, Let's Do Right by the Players--and the Fans

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During the USA v Panama game, ESPN's Ian Darke made a heartbreaking comment about the upcoming MLS season. Here's hoping for some resolution between players and owners. The players deserve a good deal!

Hey, SoccerDon!  The fans are counting on you to do right by the players!
Hey, SoccerDon! The fans are counting on you to do right by the players!
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Man, I'm still getting used to time zone changes in moving from Kentucky to Colorado.  I see on ESPN3 that the the game started at 4:00 PM.  Without thinking, I waited until 3:50 to turn it on--only to see the game in the 86th minute with our USA boys up 2-0.  (Oh! 4:00 PM EST.  Got it!)

Lovely.

But with the game well in hand, the banter among the commentators went as you might expect, to MLS, ESPN's upcoming coverage of their first game: Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC on Sunday March 8 at 4:00 PM (that's 2:00 MST, dude).  I cannot remember the exact phrasing, but Ian Darke said something that sank my heart: "We hope to be with you Sunday, March 8, to kick off the MLS season"--blah, blah blah.  That's not an offense to the incomparable Ian Darke's commentating, but the fact that I trailed off once those words exited his mouth.

"We hope to be with you... ."

And can you imagine, not being able to hear our Colorado Rapids at Philadelphia Union on Saturday, March 7?

Granted, the Premiere League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and Liga MX may all have a better brand of soccer.  And, granted, this work stoppage/lockout will not effect USL or NASL, so we will still have options (and may help attendance to help soccer fans get their fix).

But I know that, while MLS may not have the best brand of soccer on the planet (yet), I believe all of us know the importance of supporting MLS here in North America and putting a plan in place that helps the players, especially the veterans, with a strong CBA agreement that provides a limited free agency.  What does that look like?  I still need to sort through all the issues--but hopefully they will have something in place.

Commissioner Garber, I know this system has served MLS well to this point.  You've succeeded in ways few thought you would.  But the time has come to do right by the players.  They need a scheme that provides a limited free agency--especially for the veterans!  Let's get this done and not lose momentum for the 2015 season.  That way, the next time Darke gets on TV, he can tell the fans, "We will be with you March 8...."

Let's do this!