There is a conflict looming in the background of MLS: a potential players strike.
With CBA negotiations on-going and no real solution in sight, there is the potential for MLS players to strike to increase their leverage in negotiations.
A strike would put MLS, on the eve of its 20th season, in a precarious position. It would almost certainly give the players a massive bargaining chip to get free agency, but the league could call their bluff and extend the strike so that the players take a less-than-desirable deal in order to get regular paychecks once again.
If the start of the MLS season were to be delayed by a work stoppage, would MLS players be able to play anywhere else?
That answer is looking like a resounding no.
What about MLS players that would be on loan with USL squads? Lester Townsend outlined how that could happen here, and the Red Bulls will certainly look to take advantage of such arrangements.
ESPN Columnist Jeff Carlilse dumped a bunch of cold water on MLS players playing in USL to keep match fitness during a strike with these two tweets:
USL spokesperson: "Teams wouldn’t necessarily be able to rely on loan players from partners or parent clubs" in case of #mls player strike.— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) February 24, 2015
USL spokesperson says teams like Galaxy II or S2, might have to sign a few more players to mitigate lack of loans of #MLS players. #mlscba— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) February 24, 2015
It looks like NYRB II will have to sign a large number of 'traffic cones" or USL players to fill out their squad. For a team planning to use mostly academy players and MLS short-term loanees this comes as a blow.
Maybe this is why NYRB II hasn't signed any players? Possibly. Or it could be that the Red Bulls are more in tune with what is going on than we thought and are considering all the possible scenarios before going forward with the team announcement.
Anyway, having USL give more than boilerplate answers on this topic is slightly concerning, and shows it is thinking ahead with regard to the ramifications of a strike.