Although the threat of a strike by the player’s union persists, there is still time before the league’s kickoff, so hopefully the sides can get reach an agreement before 2014 MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy host the Chicago Fire on Friday night, March 6.
For now let’s have a look at the latest MLS Big – 5.
1) Is MLS Ready for its Closeup? Sky Sports to Broadcast MLS in England
MLS has taken what could be an important step in its never ending quest for legitimacy on the world stage by signing a four year contract with Sky Sports to televise the league’s games in England.
Sky will broadcast at least two MLS matches every week, as well as the All Star game, all league playoff games, and the MLS Cup final.
No financial terms were released, but the league reportedly garnered about $90 million in an eight year deal for domestic television rights with ESPN, Fox Soccer and Univision each taking part in the eight year deal.
The MLS Player’s Union will surely want to get a look at the numbers on the Sky deal as negotiations on a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) come to a head.
2) Duka Leads Montreal to CCL Draw at Pachuca
No, Montreal didn’t win this quarterfinal CONCACAF Champions League encounter on the road at Pachuca, but the Impact did position itself very well for next Tuesday’s home leg at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
No MLS club has ever won a CCL knockout round match in Mexico, and Montreal will rue this game as an opportunity missed.
Goals in the 25th and 53rd minutes from Dilly Duka had Montreal on the road to a historic victory, but playing its first competitive match of the year, Montreal were unable to hold on.
Even so, the Impact picked up two very valuable away goals and will be expected to advance to the semifinal round.
DC United are the only other MLS side still alive, they face Costa Rican club Alajuelense tonight (February 26) in Costa Rica at 7pm on Fox Sports 2. United host the return leg March 4 at RFK Stadium.
3) Serie A Dream Dashed – Former New England Defender Soares Lands in Norway
The 26 year old center back was a mainstay with the Revolution for years, and with his contract expired Soares looked set to sign with Serie A side Hellas Verona.
That deal fell through, reportedly because of a clause in Mexican defender Rafa Marquez’ contract that entitles the ex El Tri captain to receive a sizeable bonus should the club sign a defender.
The Marquez story was later dispelled, and now Soares has landed in Norway with Viking.
4) NYC Soccer War?
Actually it is #nycoccerwarz, and at least one of the clubs is buying in. The NASL Cosmos fired the first salvo in the battle for soccer hearts and minds in the New York City metropolitan area, with an enormous billboard in the shadow of Red Bull Arena.
Area supporters can also align with MLS clubs New York Red Bulls or New York City FC if they choose to pick a side in the “warz.”
In truth this seems like something of a phony war. Although the Cosmos of Pele and company played just a few miles from Red Bull Arena, few fans are likely to travel from New Jersey to Long Island, where the Cosmos play now, to see the NASL side.
And if you are familiar with the densely populated New York metro area, you’ll know that there are more than enough fans in each clubs catchment area for all three to succeed.
5) Edson Buddle Back to Galaxy?
Maybe, according to Bruce Arena who said that he may sign the veteran. Buddle played out his contract with Colorado last season and hasn’t done much for awhile now.
In fact Buddle’s last productive season came when he scored 17 goals for the Galaxy in 2010. That production earned Buddle a spot on the U.S. World Cup roster, if not much playing time, and a job in Germany with 2 Bundesliga side Ingolstadt.
Germany didn’t pan out for the striker and Buddle hasn’t exactly lit up MLS since his 2012 return to the Galaxy. Still, Arena has developed a reputation for wringing solid performances from discarded veterans, so keep an eye on the man named after Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pele.