General manager Garth Lagerwey was talking at Sounders FC media day Friday about how he chose to move from Real Salt Lake to Seattle when team captain Brad Evans interrupted.
“You mean, like free agency,” said Evans, the Sounders’ union representative.
The comment drew a laugh, including from Lagerwey.
But the fact is, the two now share the right to choose their own employer when out of contract. Evans meets the qualifications of free agency that were won this week in the new MLS collective bargaining agreement: age 28 or older with eight or more seasons in the league.
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“It doesn’t mean I want to move,” Evans said. “I think it’s a step in the right direction. Is it what everybody wanted? I think everybody can say no. But it’s a foot in the door. We avoided a work stoppage over a form of free agency, which no other league has done, I think. That’s a credit to guys making the right decision.”
This limited form of free agency was only one change included in the new CBA. Other issues that have received primary attention are increases in the clubs’ salary caps and in the players’ minimum wage.
However, key Sounders FC personnel such as Lagerwey and coach Sigi Schmid were still trying to get a handle on other practical issues on Friday, such as the first-team roster and that of of the Sounders 2 USL team, and the rules governing player movement between the two.
“We have what looks like will be something around a 28-man MLS roster,” Lagerwey said. “But we’re going to have to see how does it work with S2 as a practical matter. How are they numbers-wise? We have in our organization right now three goalkeepers. It’s probably not enough, but does it make sense to sign a backup goalkeeper for S2 to sit on the bench instead of playing for the academy team? I would tell you as a former goalkeeper, a 17- or 18-year-old kid needs to be playing games, not sitting on the bench watching. There’s all these kinds of things: real practical, minute details we have to work through.”
On the grander scale, Evans, Lagerwey, coach Sigi Schmid and minority owner Adrian Hanauer all agreed that the league and the union each came away more satisfied with some resolutions, less satisfied with others.
“I think that any good deal, neither side gets exactly what they’re looking for,” Hanauer said. “But the great part is it’s done, it’s behind us, and now we get to focus on Sunday.”
The Sounders begin their seventh MLS season at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, meeting the New England Revolution at CenturyLink Field.
Schmid declined to tip his lineup for Sunday, but he implied there will be few surprises. The only would-be starter expected unavailable is All-Star midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (groin). … A new section of seating on the east side of the upper deck of CenturyLink Field will be opened this season, moving the Sounders’ standard capacity to nearly 40,000. As of Thursday night, about 200 tickets remained for the opener. … Hanauer said the club continues to work toward an extended lease agreement at CenturyLink, but that nothing has yet been signed. … The Sounders trained Friday at CenturyLink, and will conduct their final preseason training session Saturday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.