Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association Monday announced they had finalized a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The MLSPA earlier said that its membership has has ratified amendments to the CBA.

In other words, the 2021 MLS season will be played.

“Players are ready to play,” the MLSPA said in a statement.

The primary terms of the new CBA, which are summarized below, include:

TWO-YEAR EXTENSION WITH EXPANDED FREE AGENCY – A two-year extension of the existing agreement; the new CBA runs through 2027. As a result, the first 32 seasons of MLS — from 1996 through 2027 — will have occurred without a work stoppage.
Starting in the 2026 season, players 24 and older with at least four years of MLS service at the end of their contracts are eligible to become free agents within MLS, providing players at an earlier stage of their careers with opportunities to negotiate with and move to different MLS clubs.

100% COMPENSATION IN 2021 – Players will receive 100 percent of their compensation in 2021, including salaries and bonuses.

“We have enormous respect and appreciation for everything the players have done helping build the League and the sport throughout the years, and they’ve gone above and beyond during the pandemic,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “We thank the MLSPA leadership and the players for their thoughtful and collaborative approach on the new CBA. We worked together to address the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the League, and we appreciate the players’ efforts to develop a CBA that deals with the uncertainty of the pandemic while also providing stability during the next seven years to enable further growth. We look forward to seeing the players on the training field in a few weeks as they begin preparations for the upcoming season.”

Major League Soccer will announce the 2021 regular season schedule in the coming weeks.

Both groups reached a tenative deal hours before Friday night’s 11:59 p.m. ET deadline. MLS had threatened to lock the players out had an agreement not been reached.

“The MLS Players Association would like to thank our executive board and bargaining committee who worked tirelessly over the last six weeks to represent and protect the interests of their teammates,” according to a statement released by the organization. “MLS players have made incredible sacrifices and overcome considerable challenges in the past year to continue doing their jobs during a difficult time for all of us. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our player leadership for continuing to guide us during these unprecedented times.

“Thank you as well to our brothers and sisters in the Players Associations around North America and the world for your public statements of support and solidarity. Defending and advocating for players’ rights is a collective mission we undertake together, and players’ rights are strongest when we stand side by side. You had our backs – we will always have yours.

“Finally, thank you to the Supporters’ Groups for the outpouring of support shown to players and the Players Association. Supporters’ Groups are the backbone of our league and an inseparable ally to our cause. Your voice, and the voices of all MLS fans, spoke loudly. We now move on to a 2021 season that we hope can reunite supporters and players in stadiums all across North America to enjoy and advance the game we all love.

“Players are ready to play.”


The following are key points agreed upon by MLS and the MLSPA in the new CBA:

TERM:  February 8, 2021 – January 31, 2028

MLS Player Compensation

  • An overview of player compensation for the new CBA follows below.
Year Salary Budget General Allocation Money Discretionary TAM Available Spend
on Roster*
2021 $4,900,000 $1,525,000 $2,800,000 $9,225,000
2022 $4,900,000 $1,625,000 $2,800,000 $9,325,000
2023 $5,210,000 $1,900,000 $2,720,000 $9,830,000
2024 $5,470,000 $2,585,000 $2,400,000 $10,455,000
2025 $5,950,000 $2,930,000 $2,225,000 $11,105,000
2026 $6,425,000 $3,280,000 $2,125,000 $11,830,000
2027 $7,068,000 $3,921,000 $2,025,000 $13,013,000
* Clubs have the opportunity to exceed these figures with spending on up to three Designated Players and up to three players through the League’s under-22 player initiative.
  • As was the case in the CBA agreed to in June, players also will share in the increased revenue generated by MLS’ new media agreements beginning in in 2023. MLS will increase player spending by an amount equal to 12.5 percent of the incremental media revenue, as defined in the CBA, in 2023 and 2024, increasing to 25 percent for the 2025, 2026 and 2027 seasons.  The League’s current local, national and international media rights partnerships expire at the end of 2022.
  • Team bonuses and 401(k) contributions will remain as agreed to in the previous CBA.
  • The Maximum Salary Budget Charge, the maximum a club can be charged for an individual player on the team’s salary budget, increases from $612,500 in 2021 to $883,438 in 2027.
Year Maximum Salary Budget Charge 
2021 $612,500
2022 $612,500
2023 $651,250
2024 $683,750
2025 $743,750
2026 $803,125
2027 $883,438
  • Minimum salaries for players on the senior roster increase from $81,375 in 2021 to $125,875 in 2027.
  • Minimum salaries for players on reserve roster increase from $63,547 in 2021 to $97,700 in 2024.
  • Clubs will continue to have the ability to sign up to three Designated Players.

Free Agency

  • Under the most recent CBA, to be eligible for free agency a player needed to be 24 years old and have five years of service in the league.  Beginning in 2026, the eligibility has been expanded to include players who are 24 years old with four years of service in the league.
  • For the 2026 and 2027 seasons only, the new CBA also has modifications to the increases in compensation that free agents can earn:
    • For players making the maximum salary budget charge or less, a free agent can sign a contract with another club with an initial salary of the greater of $25,000 above the maximum salary budget charge, or 20% above the player’s prior salary.
    • For players making between the maximum salary budget charge and the maximum targeted allocation money (TAM) amount, the player could earn 20% above the prior salary up to $500,000 above the maximum salary budget charge and 15% of such salary from $500,000 above the maximum salary up to the maximum TAM amount.