MLS plan 25th season celebrations but need to complete player contract talks

January 9 – Major League Soccer has unveiled plans to celebrate the league’s 25th anniversary, including a jersey reveal ahead of New York Fashion Week and other events to mark the landmark. 

“Our 25th season will celebrate our rich history by honouring the countless people behind the growth of our league and reflecting upon many of the memorable moments in our history,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber (pictured) in a league statement. “During this season-long celebration, we’ll also focus on our exciting future as we continue on our path to become one of the top leagues in the world.”

On Thursday, the MLS Superdraft will take place before the league kicks off the 2020 season on February 29, the earliest start ever. The MLS and Adidas will release a new jersey before Fashion Week gets underway. The league’s All-Star Game is schedule for July 29 in Los Angeles against a select from Liga MX, Mexico’s top flight. Media events, a “25 Greatest″ list of players and a greatest goal in the league’s history will further mark celebrations around the MLS’s anniversary.

This year the league welcomes expansion teams Inter Miami CF, headed by David Beckham, and Nashville SC as MLS expands to 26 franchises. In 2021, Austin FC will become the league’s 27th franchise and by 2022 St. Louis and Sacramento will further swell the numbers. Recently, MLS announced Charlotte as the 30th franchise.

But even as the league celebrates its landmark birthday, ongoing contract talks between MLS and the player’s association could blight the season opening, potentially leading to a strike if a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached. Five years ago, MLS and the players didn’t reach a CBA agreement until days before the 2015 season kicked off. With the expansion of MLS and the USA co-hosting the 2026 World Cup, the new agreement is seen as crucial by the players. Expansion of free agency and charter travel are among the key topics in the negotiations.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1580334064labto1580334064ofdlr1580334064owedi1580334064sni@o1580334064fni1580334064