by Taylor Sorrels (@taylorsorrels)
While Louisville City plays its first ever friendly in a closed barn in Bloomington, Indiana, other forces are swirling that will likely have some impact on the team before its March 28 kickoff against St. Louis Sucks FC. MLS, U.S. Soccer’s division one league and the nirvana to which we all hope Louisville City ascends after a few years, is apparently intractably mired in labor negotiations with the MLS Players’ Union. Leaving aside the intricacies of why all that’s happening and remains unresolved just two days before the league is supposed to begin play, if a work stoppage does occur (and it very well might), should we LCFC supporters be concerned about what that means for Louisville City?
The answer is: not really. As you may have read earlier in the week following LCFC’s first-ever media day, James O’Connor plans for the club to have “18 of our own (players) – maybe 19 – then we’ll have probably four players from Orlando.” O’Connor, who has most of the decision-making power over player personnel decisions, is probably wise not to focus much, at least at this point, on whom OCSC might send down. Eighteen or nineteen players makes for a smallish roster (most large clubs have first team rosters around 24), but if the MLSPU goes on strike, it won’t matter who comes from Orlando, they won’t be playing. Any and all Orlando City players’ contracts will still be with MLS, and their presence in Louisville would be as loanees only. If the Players’ Union elects not to play games, any player with an MLS contract will be bound by the union’s decision until the union and MLS manage to hash out a new collective bargaining agreement, or something worse happens. MLSPU player representatives have warned of a strike for several months now in preparation for difficult negotiations with the league, and media watchdogs’ latest outlook on a resolution before first kick are stormy to say the least.
As for the players Louisville City signs on its own roster, those players have contracts with Louisville City, not MLS or the MLSPU. As such, any work stoppage will not have any effect on Louisville City’s ability to play games this season. So while an MLS work stoppage might make things uncomfortable for the smaller roster, the USL will still be open for business, and Louisville will still press on for its first ever season.