Fire midfielders Logan Pause and John Thorrington didn't train with the team Monday or Tuesday. Instead, the pair of central midfielders -- who also happen to be the Fire's Union Representatives -- were in Washington, D.C., sitting in on collective bargaining agreement negotiations between MLS and the Players Union.
"We haven’t heard from them yet," Fire forward Brian McBride said to a group of reporters after the Fire's Tuesday morning practice. "I'm sure they’ll be back with some news [on Wednesday]."
All parties involved will be hoping that Thorrington and Pause come back to Chicago bearing good news. Thus far, negotiations for a new CBA have been progressing slowly. The current deal expired last month and the players have already decided that they will strike should no new agreement be hashed out before the scheduled season opener on March 24 between the Philadelphia Union and Seattle Sounders.
"We're hoping that this week is a big change for them and that they’ve at least considered some of our proposal," said veteran Fire defender C.J. Brown after Tuesday's training session. "It's pretty much out there. If they don’t want to budge on anything then it’s a done deal -- we'll strike and hope for the best."
The main sticking point in negotiations has been the issue of free agency. Ultimately, neither McBride nor Brown wants to see the players strike. But both are serious about what they want to see change and they each understand the reality of what will happen if the league and the players can’t agree to a new deal before next Thursday’s First Kick.
“Guys don’t want to strike; they want to play,” Brown said. “They would rather be playing than sitting at home or doing something else so hopefully we can come up with an agreement.”
“It’s not something that you ever want to do,” McBride said of a potential strike. “We enjoy doing this and it’s a great job, but unfortunately, things like this come up. It’s just like any other business. You have to understand that different groups have different things they want and you can hopefully come to an agreement. But as players, we feel very strongly about some of the things we are pushing for.”