The Major League Soccer American Players Union

Now that MLS and the Players Union have agreed to meet with a mediator in the room - a move which smells an awful lot like window dressing for the unions' impending El Foldo routine - it's time to stop tiptoeing around the singularly ugly truth, something which we haven't heard much of recently.

The Players Union has obviously told their membership that the message they need to deliver when being interviewed on the subject of the CBA is how all they really want is "basic rights, the same ones that players everywhere else have"

Indeed, they're beginning to sound like parrots and, unfortunately, all too often they're sounding like stupid ones like, for example, Chris "I know what they told me to say I'm just not sure what it means" Tierney the other day::

"Just basic rights, we want that. Players are willing to do whatever it takes to get those things

They - and their media pals who write CRAP LIKE THIS WHICH WOULD INSULT THE INTELLIGENCE OF A GERBIL - say that the solution to the labor impasse is simple:

Just take off the "training wheels" by rescinding those "oppressive", "unfair", "restrictive" MLS player acquisition rules and everything will be hunky dory.

This, to borrow a term from the poet, is a bigass old lie.

Oh, they would dearly love to see SOME "restrictive MLS rules" abolished, absolutely. But the one they're not mentioning, the one that makes this whole argument an exercise in hypocrisy is the foreign player quota.

Almost every day now, MLS teams are releasing their foreign trialists. Are these guys being sent back where they came from because their soccer skills don't measure up to the singular brilliance of the collection of US college graduates that dominate the average MLS roster?

Not a bit of it.

Rather, they're being sent packing because they're not good enough, in the parlance of the league, "to justify a foreign player spot".

Kenn Tomasch, a guy I like and admire although he is very angry at me for having the audacity to disagree with him a few months back, posted a piece comparing the percentage of foreign players in the old NASL (it varied) with MLS.

And he found that about 60% of currently rostered players are US born. Toss in those guys who managed to cadge Green Cards for themselves so that they can dodge what used to be called the "Senior International" designation and what you end up with is a bunch of guys who have no interest whatever in having the "basic rights that players overseas have" extended to MLS.

Because of course those "basic rights" include, in most cases, the right to compete for a roster spot regardless of nationality.

The truth here is that many, if not a majority, of American born MLS players would not be able to win a roster spot in a truly free and open competition. It is MLS' "unfair, restrictive and tightly controlled" roster restrictions, the ones they are now busily bemoaning, which keep them employed.

Look around at the many and various players now giving quotes about "basic rights" to their local unionized newspaper writers and one thing stands out:

The fact that none of the interviewees are foreign players.

I wonder why that is.

Actually, no I don't wonder. I know, and you know, and the foreign players know and the American players sure ought to know, although if Chris Tierney is an example, maybe there are still some who haven't figured it out.

The bottom line here, the basic, ugly fact, is that this is a fight between American born players and MLS. Most of the foreign guys don't have a dog in this fight. They're either on guaranteed contracts anyway or they're very happy to have a US work permit and a job here.

They had other options, mostly, and chose to come here, and the CBA isn't going to do a thing for them. MLS rules discriminate against them and if that ever changes it won't be because the MLS American Players Union stood up for them.

This of course raises the question of whether they will be willing to walk out if the MLSAPU refuse to honor the picket lines - and for a lot of them I'm not sure what choice they really have if they want to keep eating regularly - then a strike cannot succeed.

However that may be, the union needs to start being honest with if not us then at least itself, and the fact is that Major League Soccers' "restrictive player acquisition rules" are what keeps them on the field.

The last thing they want is for foreign players to get "basic rights" within MLS.

They want them for American players only.