An anonymous player representative told ESPN's Jeff Carlisle that the union are now seeking "flexibility in player movement" instead of outright free agency. "We know we can't have true free agency within single entity," the player said.
It was the first public conciliatory note from the players in weeks, and it comes after a string of public statements by the owners in the last few days that were clearly part of a concerted strategy of bravado and intimidation. (More on that here.)
This movement toward a compromise by the union on the key issue of free agency is positive not only because it shows that the union continues to bargain in good faith but also because free agency is a major sticking point for the league bosses who view it as a direct assault on their monopolistic "single entity" system, which they have fought so hard to prop up.
The fact that union reps are willing to move on this key issue bodes well for a compromise, and there is still plenty of room for a final deal that improves player rights and freedom of movement without gutting the owners' precious single entity model.
Then there was this positive statement from Seattle Sounders defender Taylor Graham, although it "definitely" falls in the "duh" category: "Our goal is not to strike ... It's definitely not in the players' interests for the league not to survive; and it's definitely not in the league's interest for that to happen."
One source told El Luchador by email: "We don't want to strike, but we will if we have to. We're hopeful that in the coming days, we can find some room for agreement."
There was positive movement on the League's' part as well, as owners demonstrated a modicum of decency by agreeing to pay for almost 2 dozen players to fly to Washington to participate in this last round of talks.
Union stalwart Pat Onstad told Jeff Carlisle: "I think [the league] wants a representative from each club to be there, and frankly, so do we. I think everybody needs to be there. It's an important decision for both sides."
But don't get too excited. Lest you prematurely conclude that owners have any respect at all for fans or players, check out what the league's most powerful owner and lead douche bag, LA Galaxy owner Tim Leiweke, had to say: "Even if it means that we go a year without soccer, so be it ... We will wait as long as it takes. We will never, ever agree to change the system." That last sentence is not the kind of thing mediators like to hear around the bargaining table. "Never, ever change" is more like the type of thing you typically hear from teenagers and tea baggers.
Meanwhile, MLS Commissioner Don Garber continued to ignore an invitation from fan group MLS Solidarity to appear in an open debate over the labor impasse on World Football Daily.
Finally, the players made clear that while they are willing to move on free agency, they will not be had. Chicago Fire defender and union rep. C.J. Brown told Fox Soccer Channel: "If they don't want to budge on anything, then it's a done deal, we're striking."
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!
We must march my darlings, We must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!