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Major League Soccer labor negotiations extended

In a possible indication that progress is being made, Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union have extended their contract negotiations by almost two weeks, until Feb. 12.

MLSlogo The current five-year collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players expires at midnight on Sunday, but talks are ongoing in New York and both sides have agreed to continue them.

"While we still have areas of disagreement, the talks have been constructive and both parties believe it makes sense to continue to work hard to reach agreement," Don Garber, the MLS commissioner, said.

At issue, primarily, is the players' demand that they have the freedom to negotiate with any club once their contract expires. They also are seeking longer guaranteed contracts, a retirement plan, an increase in the league-mandated minimum salary and a larger salary cap for each of the league's 15 teams.

The players already have reported to training camp in preparation for the 2010 season, which begins March 25 with the expansion Philadelphia Union at the Seattle Sounders in a nationally televised Thursday night game.

Locally, Chivas USA begins its season on Friday March 26 -- a change from its originally announced Sunday March 28 opener -- and the Galaxy opens on Saturday March 27.

-- Grahame L. Jones

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