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BREAKING: MLS, MLSPA agree to new CBA until 2025

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What changes are coming in Feb. 2020 and what does this mean for TFC?

SOCCER: NOV 10 MLS Cup Final - Toronto FC at Seattle Sounders FC
Canadian fans celebrate during the Major League Soccer Cup Final between the Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, November 10, 2019, at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA.
(Workman/Icon Sportswire via Getty)

TORONTO, Ont.—Massive news in Major League Soccer this morning as the league and its player’s association (MLSPA) have come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement that will run through the 2024 season.

“The new five-year CBA commences with the beginning of the 2020 season and runs through January 2025,” the MLSPA wrote in a statement. “Under the historic deal, free agency rights will increase dramatically while the percentage of eligible players more than doubles. Salary budgets and player compensation will experience steady growth that by the end of the deal will take the average salary over $500,000 and the senior minimum salary over $100,000.”

According to the MLSPA website, the average base salary for Senior Roster Non-Designated Players in MLS reached $345,867 in 2019, while the senior minimum salary in 2019 was $70,250. It’s nice to see the league heading a positive direction as a whole, but with the new CBA also comes changes to the rules—some of which may dramatically effect Toronto FC.

The league’s current deal was set to expire after this season, but instead it will begin in 2020. As Toronto FC have yet to announce the signing of their third designated player, it is unclear whether or not the new “limited third DP” rule effects them.

“Clubs will continue to have the right to sign up to three Designated Players in the new CBA,” according to MLSSoccer.com’s release. “The league will have the right to limit the compensation for the third Designated Player to the maximum TAM Salary, unless the player is 23 years old or younger, in which case there will be no limit.”

In other words, clubs can still sign a designated player worth up to 1.53m (in 2019) regardless of their age. However, if they’re older than 23—and you already have two other DPs who are over the age of 23—then they cannot be sign for more than that amount. Since the CBA kicks in this season (as opposed to next), does that mean Toronto FC’s designated player (should he cost more than 1.53m) has to be under the age of 23?

That’s unclear, but it certainly puts a question mark on the reported Pablo Piatti move, as the 30-year-old Argentinian was apparently in Toronto on Wednesday to complete a medical.

To further add to the confusion, I asked The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal about what this means for Toronto FC. This was his answer:

With the new limited DP and U-22 initiative (in which more details will be provided at a later date), the league is clearly pushing for teams to invest in younger talent. Essentially, MLS wants teams to develop and sell players as opposed to buying accomplished veterans and watching their value decrease.

You can find a further breakdown of all of the changes on the league’s site here.