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March 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM

CBA reaction at Sounders FC camp — exclusive with Taylor Graham

(What is this day like from a players’ standpoint?)
It’s an exciting day for everybody. It’s exciting for the fans. It’s exciting for the players. It’s exciting for the league. Collectively, fans, players, and league we’ve taken a step forward in advancing the league. There was a lot of time, a lot of effort put into this process over the last two days, over the last two months, over the last two years. This has been a slowly building process to where I think it’s a huge step in the right direction.

(How much was done in the last couple days?)
A lot. We were involved in the process from sun-up until sundown. The first day, on Thursday, we got into the room at 9:30 a.m. and left at 2 a.m., and yesterday (Friday) it was 10 to 12:30 and the lawyers stuck behind working all night getting the stuff done. There was a lot of energy put in toward this. There were some good discussions and some good negotiations that led to some good concessions from both sides. And nobody wants a deal that’s going to be disadvantageous for one side, and that’s why this is a successful deal, because it’s not.
(Players happy with deal? Seemed like you got some, but not everything you wanted.)
That’s what negotiations are. It’s not getting everything you want. We’re trying to make strides for the current generation of soccer players and the future generations of soccer players. If you start getting language into a collective bargaining agreement that pushes it in the right direction, which we were successful in doing. Hopefully over the CBA periods, the league continues to grow and become more financial viable and stable that these numbers are going to get better for the leagues and players.
(Thoughts on the Thursday now for the home opener)
I don’t think the excitement has ever left. The fans have been great throughout this process, in terms of voicing their concerns and giving their encouragement. Our whole preseason has been gearing toward Thursday, not gearing toward today. That’s been something’s that we put in the backburner in training, where we’re preparing for games, not strikes or contract negotiations. That’s why we’re so fortunate in what we’re doing. We’re playing a game and we love playing this game in front of our fans.
(Any last words for the fans, who were concerned with all the strike talk…)
There are different tones around the league, but no one from Seattle or the majority of players in the league weren’t hanging a strike over anybody’s head. All we were saying the whole time is that there are important things that we’re looking to accomplish, and we’ll do what it takes to get this done. Whether that’s through negotiations or striking, no one was specifically saying we’re going to strike to get this done. It’s not about the strike, it’s about the issues involved in the process. And that’s what I think is important to realize. Obviously that’s something you have to look at in the process, what if this doesn’t get resolved and (a strike is) one form of a work stoppage. There’s either a lockout or a strike. That was just the nature of what was looming. But again, it was never about a strike, it was about these issues and getting players better rights, which we were successful in doing. And the league was accommodating and giving. I want to go back to, this is a good day for the players and the league. And if one side was unhappy, it would’ve been an unsuccessful CBA.


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