Major League Soccer, MLS Players Union focusing on 'non-strike issues'

The recent talks toward a new collective bargaining agreement between Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union have been focusing on "non-strike issues," according to Columbus Crew defender Michael Parkhurst.

Parkhurst, one of the Crew's player representatives, said via text message that finding common ground on seemingly minor issues had been "a struggle" but added, "Some progress is better than none."

The previous CBA expired on Jan. 31, though the real deadline is the start of the MLS regular season, which is scheduled to begin on March 6.

The two main sticking points still to be hashed out are player compensation and free agency, with Parkhurst indicating that there had been "no progress" on the latter issue. But he added that now was the time to hash out some of the minor details because as the start of the season gets closer "most of the talks will be on the big issues."

It emerged late last week that the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service had been brought in at the request of both sides in order to help reach an agreement. Meetings are scheduled to continue this week in New York City.