Brad Evans’ week has sped by in a blur.
The Sounders’ media-day training session Friday at CenturyLink Field was Evans’ first practice since last Saturday. He’d spent the rest of this week in Washington, D.C., as the team’s players’ union representative. MLS collective bargaining agreement negotiations went down to the wire, and Evans provided a behind-the-scenes account Friday after practice.
“I ran through all my (cellphone) minutes in like four days,” Evans said. “… When I look back, I don’t even remember which days were days and which hours were hours.”
Evans says fellow players’ union rep Dylan Remick was his point of contact in Seattle — “He’s trying to force his way into the team,” Evans explained about why the backup defender remained in Seattle, “there are a lot of guys fighting for that position and he’d had his concussion; he needed to be here.” — and he was in constant contact with Seattle’s veterans, keeping them updated on the status of the talks.
By late Tuesday night, with less than 48 hours to go before the presumed Thursday deadline, that status wasn’t very promising.
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“The first … offer (from the league) wasn’t good enough for anybody,” Evans said. “It wasn’t acceptable, on all fronts. There wasn’t a single thing that you could think of that was acceptable.”
Evans confirmed reports the players’ vote was 18-1 in favor of a strike Tuesday night and 12-7 in favor of the new CBA on Wednesday, though he was less than thrilled that those specifics were leaked to the media.
“We talk about going into a strike and feeling confident and feeling unified,” Evans said. “To know that there was a snake in that room that released information on who voted yes and who voted no, that shows me that there wasn’t enough solidarity to go on a strike. Snake, rat, whatever you want to call that person.”
The main sticking point of negotiations was free agency, a point of concession the players eventually received — but only for those age 28 or older with at least eight years’ experience in the league.
Friday, when new Seattle general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey was discussing his offseason move — he first received an offer from his old club, Real Salt Lake, before testing his value on the open market — Evans broke in.
“You mean, like free agency,” he said.
Evans later added that on Tuesday night, he received an email from a leader of the Emerald City Supporters confirming fan support for the players’ cause. The supporters, the note said, were planning to do their traditional “March to the Match” for the opener Sunday against New England regardless of whether the game went ahead, and all proceeds from it and the surrounding supporters’ parties would be donated to the players.
“Once I saw that and showed that to everybody else in the room, they actually reached out to their fans,” Evans said. “At the end of the day, if we did go into a work stoppage, they’re the ones that we needed more than anything.
“It was a massive show of gratitude. I can’t say enough about our fans.”