In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Monday, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) chief executive Tim Leiweke, who was a prime mover in the deal that brought David Beckham to Major League Soccer and whose company owned six MLS clubs at one point, fired a few shots across the bow of the good ship MLSPU, regarding the threat of a strike come March 25.
“Here’s our issue, and I’m speaking on behalf of AEG. We have spent to the tune of $300 million on soccer. We have spent money on facilities. We at one point owned six of the 10 teams to keep the league alive.”
“I don’t even know how to react when I hear the players now saying that we have treated them poorly and they’re going to strike.”
“There are only a couple of [MLS] teams that will make money this year…. We do this out of passion. If this were a business, we would have quit 10 years ago.”
No MLS players were quoted in the story with any counterpoints, but if they had been, here are some of the things they might* have said:
“I’ve been in the league for all but one year of its existence. I’m the all-time leader in wins among goalkeepers. When my contract with Kansas City expired and we couldn’t come to terms on a new one, I was held in limbo for weeks because we have no free agency within MLS—meaning no other team could sign me without permission from (read: compensation for) the Wizards. They still owned my rights, even though I was out of contract.”—Kevin Hartman, FC Dallas
“I made $34,650 last year, and I was an MLS Best XI selection, and got called up to the U.S. national team, twice.” —Geoff Cameron, Houston Dynamo.
“I did my best to anchor the San Jose backline last season (not easy), got a call-up from U.S. coach Bob Bradley for my efforts, and a grand total of $20,100 from the league.”—Brandon McDonald, San Jose Earthquakes.
There are eight days to go until the deadline.
*They did not actually say these things, but the information cited is true.