Atlanta United players don’t show for training as MLS showdown looms

No Atlanta United players attended any of Monday’s three voluntary small-group training sessions as a showdown looms between MLS and the Major League Soccer Players Association over economic concessions to continue the 2020 season.

According to ESPN’s Herculez Gomez, the league is considering locking out the players if they don’t agree to the league’s multi-pronged proposal by noon Tuesday.

MLS suspended its league on March 12 citing concerns about COVID-19. The two sides are negotiating a return to play in Orlando, as well as salary reductions and the ratification of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Friday night, the MLSPA, the collection of the league's players, approved a plan that included the players competing in a tournament in Orlando and a reduction in player's salaries of 7.5 percent, but wanted the league to approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed to by the two sides in February.

The league wants pay reductions of 8.5 percent, according to ESPN, and an escape clause in the CBA if at least five teams suffer an attendance decrease of 25 percent from the previous year. MLSPA  agreed to a clause, called force majeure, that didn’t include that stipulation, according to ESPN and The Athletic.

On Thursday, in a step toward continuing the season, the league approved the start of the voluntary small-group training sessions under guidelines. The first such session  was scheduled for Monday.  As many as six players can participate in each session.

The small groups must maintain social distance and follow prescribed protocols established by the league. The protocols are similar to those put forth when individual training sessions began on May 6. Many Atlanta United players have been training individually at the team’s facility.