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New MLS CBA ratified, work stoppage officially avoided

The new contract runs through the 2027 season

MLS: Chicago Fire at Minnesota United FC
Chicago Fire midfielder Alvaro Medran (10) protects the ball from Minnesota United forward Ethan Finlay (13)
Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Soccer will officially avoid a work stoppage, with the players voting Monday to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement. The MLS owners also formally approved the new CBA.

The deal, which runs through January 31, 2028, will see the league’s salary cap stay flat (except for a small increase in GAM spending in 2022) for the next couple seasons, but will steadily rise after that.

There are a few wins for players: beginning in 2026, the league’s free agency rules will change. Players 24 and older with at least four years of MLS service at the end of their contracts will be eligible for free agency. The most recent CBA required that players have five years of service before they could be eligible for free agency.

Minimum salaries will go up, too. The lowest-earning salaries on the senior roster will increase from $81,375 in 2021 to $125,875 in 2027, and minimum salaries for players on reserve roster will increase from $63,547 in 2021 to $97,700 in 2024.

Perhaps most importantly, the players won’t have to take a pay cut again in 2021.

But, the league’s owners got what they wanted, a two-year extension of the CBA, which the league argued was necessary to offset huge losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For their part, the MLSPA put out a statement thanking supporters’ groups and other players’ unions for their support during the negotiations. It ended with a simple, but powerful sentence: “Players are ready to play.”