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Coffee with the Caps, Friday February 7

Let’s make a deal!

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MLS: FORWARD25 Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Good Friday morning Caps’ fans, it is a rainy (and frankly very Pacific Northwest) day here in my neck of the woods but it is in fact almost the weekend, so no complaints.

And this week was a big one, as players now have a CBA deal under which to operate, averting a work stoppage, and they also have brand shiny new kits to play in, with Adidas announcing the new swag Tuesday across the league.

First things first is the CBA, which we break down in a separate story over here. I’ll just run down some of the highlights:

  • Spending limit will increase from $8,490,000 (2019) to $11,643,000 (2024). The plan is to give owners more GAM, with an eye towards eventually phasing out TAM. This would allow owners to spend more across the board, rather than just in a certain salary window
  • Starting in 2020, clubs will be required to use charter flights on eight ‘legs’ of travel during the regular season, with that number eventually doubling. Charters are mandatory for the playoffs and CONCACAF Champions League matches (I was shocked to learn teams were flying commercial to Honduras but MLS gonna MLS)
  • A provision that could allow the league to set an age cap on the third DP, a provision that Caps’ ownership (among other executives) was pushing for, ostensibly to promote player development but which many speculated would be aimed at letting them cheap out.
  • Changes to free agency—players who are 24 years or older and have five years of service in MLS are now eligible. This was probably the players’ biggest issue.
  • Players will get a cut of any renegotiated national, international and local TV deals

On the surface, this seems like a pretty fair deal. As has been widely reported, no one was really looking to blow up the system, totally killing GAM/TAM/WHAM and spending limits. The players seem to get the need for MLS to not outpace itself and its spending capabilities and have accepted the reality that this is the path Don Garber wants to take.

On the other hand they were able to extract some pretty strong concessions—the free agency change is pretty significant, as it was nigh impossible to qualify before. And they also won an increase in the minimum salary to just over $100,000, with the hope that that will continue to rise. That means players and owners are bullish on the continued profitability of the league.

For Vancouver, in particular, the increase to the spending cap means that they can dive back into the transfer market to bring in some sorely needed midfielders, the mandatory charters will help the team with arguably the most hellish travel schedule in American sports and the fact that this was all done and dusted with little acrimony is a win for all teams in the league. Its unfortunate it couldn’t have happened sooner, to help the Caps get new recruits in, but ... oh well.

But what will those new (and old) players be wearing? Well, that is a bit more contentious.

You see Adidas made the decision to slap a pretty ugly template together to use for each MLS team. The results vary—the Caps and a few others teams (Sporting KC comes to mind) have a pretty good final product. You really wish the weird three stripes motif on the right shoulder would bugger off but it overall looks pretty respectable.

Not gonna lie, I would consider buying one of those—it is in the same vein as the Sea-to-Sky kits from a few years back that are my all time favor kit.

The Sounders one, on the other hand, is just a lot

And of course Adidas had to murder the team with probably the best kits in MLS-Houston Dynamo-to produce whatever the hell this montrosity is.

Worth noting that this is an Adidas issue—they’ve been prone to standardizing jerseys in MLS before but this is a new level. I will concede that many of them have grown on me and they always look better on the pitch than they do on the runway. But the three stripes—ugh, Adidas killed some great jerseys by insisting on their presence.

Will you be buying a new kit? Does the design matter at all? Or should I shelve my burgeoning side gig as a fashionista?

We’ll discuss after the links

Shameless Self Promotion

I’ll re-plug AtlantisB’s nice explainer on the new CBA and what it means going forward. Also worth another call for applications to come write for 86Forever—it isn’t too late folks!

Best of the Rest

Brian Straus of SI does his yearly recap of the MLS kit reveals. Spoiler: Vancouver makes out quite well

It is a day of the week ending in “day” so it must mean weird stuff is happening at the U.S. Soccer Federation

Vancouver got hammered by LA Galaxy earlier this week, as they depart San Diego with a bit of a mixed bag of take aways

A deep dive on the CBA here from The Athletic

Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank with the hot take that most MLS clubs are profitable

Former US National Team star is open to an MLS move—just not to FC Cinci