MLS Ticker: Season could start without referees, Whitecaps sign Morales, and more

Hilario Grajda,George Gansner,Paul Scott,Mark Declouet.

By DAN ITEL

Major League Soccer’s regular season opening day may go on without its referees if a labor deal isn’t reached by the weekend.

Commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday that the league has a plan in place to play games if the referee’s union, the Professional Soccer Referee Association, fails to reach a deal with the Professional Referee Organization, the body created by the U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS in 2012 to manage game officials in U.S. and Canadian professional leagues.

“We will be opening up this weekend with referees, and we are absolutely in a position to have a contingency plan in the event that those discussions don’t end positively,” Garber said Tuesday in an online Q-&-A session. “We have so many things that we’re gearing up for with our 2014 season. Nothing is going to stop us from having a strong opening and to continue to grow this league.”

The PSRA has filed a pair of unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board’s New York office, accusing the PRO of bad-faith bargaining and making threats against PSRA members. PSRA members voted 64-1 last month to authorize an unfair labor practice strike.

Here are some more stories to get you caught up on news from around the league:

VANCOUVER ANNOUNCE SIGNING OF MORALES AS THIRD DP

The Vancouver Whitecaps kept up their busy offseason with the announcement Wednesday that they have signed Chilean midfielder Pedro Morales on a free transfer from La Liga side Málaga CF pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.

Morales, officially signed as the team’s third Designated Player following reports earlier this week that the 28-year-old would be joining the club, has four goals in 22 league appearances with Málaga over the past two seasons. He previously played with Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb, scoring 26 games in 87 league, UEFA Champions League and Europa League appearances.

“Pedro is an exciting attacking player and we are thrilled to have him join our club,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said in a statement. “He is a natural No. 10 who will bring a creative flare to our attack and is someone the supporters will enjoy watching.”

His acquisition comes on the heals of the ‘Caps trade for former Toronto FC midfielder  Matías Laba as a Designated Player. Scottish international striker Kenny Miller occupies the third DP slot, but his contract expires in June.

RAPIDS ANNOUNCE SIGNING OF MIDFIELDER JOSE MARI

With the departure of defensive midfielder Hendry Thomas to FC Dallas, the Colorado Rapids needed a replacement.

They found one with the signing Tuesday of José Mari, a 26-year-old midfielder with eight years of experience in Spain. He’ll be eligible pending receipt of his P-1 work visa and international transfer certificate.

“José Mari is a talented player with a deep understanding of the game and a lot of technical ability,” Rapids technical director Paul Bravo said in a release. “We’ve had a chance to see him in action throughout preseason and believe he is a good fit for our squad, bringing a great deal of experience and skill. We’re thrilled to officially welcome him to the team.”

He originally joined Colorado earlier this preseason.

QUICK KICKS

Houston Dynamo defensive leader Jermaine Taylor is rounding into form as he continues his recovery from a foot injury that kept him out of the MLS Cup Playoffs last year.

Real Salt Lake will be without forwards Robbie Findley and Devon Sandoval for their regular season opener Saturday against the L.A. Galaxy, while defender Chris Shuler is questionable.

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What do you think of these developments. Post your comments below.

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13 Responses to MLS Ticker: Season could start without referees, Whitecaps sign Morales, and more

  1. TomG says:

    How much do MLS refs make, what expenses are covered and how much time do they have to put in outside of actualy games? Seems kind of stupid to strike in this economy but not sure how awful their contract actually is.

    • Horsewhistle says:

      Considering that MLS requires no officiating a day before or after one of their matches and they prefer that local refs aren’t used but out of towners are flown in, the compensation doesn’t match the commitment being asked of the officials. Many prefer to work FIFA friendlies or over seas and or collegiate tournaments in lieu of MLS games. In fact MLS doesn’t hire FIFA designated officials for the majority of their games. Probably because of the paltry pay and requirements. i cant speak to all their concerns, but when the referees voted to unionize at the end of last season, it was understood that a strike would come soon. PRO was formed to manage MLS interests and The Don just wanted to draw more attention to his expansion plans this offseason than deal with the current league business.

      I know we’ve had refs on these boards before, but maybe they’re being quiet during the strike, but this article is not showing both sides of the story and sounds like it was copied right off a wire or handed to Itel from the league. This tarnishes SBI as being a mechanism of the league in lieu of authentic reporting, but hey, everyone’s gonna look good this weekend in those new kits? Right?

    • ButlerBob says:

      It’s my understanding that it would be a lock out and not a strike. I believe the union has authorized a strike. But the threat is of a lock out if things aren’t settled.

  2. John says:

    The fact that Baldomero Toledo even gets paid is criminal.

  3. Ian says:

    I blame Salazar for this too.

  4. Eric J says:

    Tough job getting paid hundreds of thousands a year to ref soccer.

  5. SJ says:

    The real question is if the replacements do equally as crappy of a job, what will the “real” refs say

  6. rorschach says:

    read some more about the ref’s plight and i’m siding with them on this one and will be boycotting the MLS until this is resolved. they want fair pay for their job and should be compensated and are willing to go without work to state their case. good luck refs!

    • Horsewhistle says:

      +1, Well, I am still going to my opening game, but you won’t find me buying MLS live subscription or an authorized kit this season. Maybe some banner with a hash tag is in order.

  7. yameson says:

    Not only is this a bad situation for the MLS refs, it is also clearly a warning shot across the bow from the owners toward the Players’ Union, whose contract expires a year from now in March 2015. The amount the two sides are apart, whether it be $400,000 or a million is immaterial to the owners. They are not only playing hard ball with the ref’s union, but want to show strength ahead of their negotiations with the players. It’s ironic that the owners have exercised their right to lock the refs out–create a work stoppage–because the refs wouldn’t concede their right to strike–create a work stoppage–if necessary.

    I am a Red Bulls supporter and season ticket holder, and I may not go to the hope opener if this situation isn’t resolved before the game on Sunday.