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Every week Dell Loy Hansen receives a letter from Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber. Real Salt Lake's owner said so on his appearance on the club's flagship radio station, ESPN700, Wednesday evening.
With the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement having expired Jan. 31, and the MLS Players Union and league currently very much at odds regarding the next deal, MLS doesn't want its owners weighing in too much on the talk of potential free agency, pay increase and other issues.
"Every week I get a letter from the Commissioner telling me I'll be fined $250,000 if I say much of anything," Hansen said Wednesday.
More than just your garden variety slap-on-the-wrist.
Hansen spoke in roundabout terms of the situation between the two sides, still discussing, still trying to hammer down a deal before the 2015 season officially kicks off on March 6 when the defending MLS Cup champions L.A. Galaxy host the Chicago Fire in Carson, Calif.
The MLSPU has voiced their desire for free agency and players around the league have said they will strike if some form of it is not included in the next CBA as labor negotiations continue. Last week, a federal mediator was brought in, just like in 2010 when talks went down to the 11th hour before completion.
"[The league] really will dig their heels in on that issue," Hansen said. "I don't think that's really going to be on the table. I know the owners are really willing to step forward with some increase in pay, so I'm hopeful we have a positive outcome and we play that first game."
When asked if he thinks the league could handle a work stoppage, he said in conversations with various owners around the league that no clubs are making contingency plans to not play their respective first games of 2015.
"I think we'll get there," Hansen said. "Whether we get that first game or not, I think, is the game of chicken that always gets played. I'm glad [the season-opener is] in Portland. Our first [home] game is on the 14th."
'We can go hunting' • Hansen roots for the underdog. And he views new RSL Technical Director Craig Waibel as someone folks around the league may underestimate after replacing longtime general manager Garth Lagerwey, now in Seattle.
"People, in their peril, will underestimate Craig," Hansen said.
After one year as an assistant coach under head coach Jeff Cassar, Waibel was hired to replace Lagerwey in January. Hansen said in his radio spot Wednesday that he wakes up with a smile every day when he gets to work with Waibel.
"I've worked with him, probably closer than I did [with] Garth," he said. "We've sat down, spent more time on team acquisition, we've put more money into this team than any team before. We've cleared, possibly a DP spot that I said, 'We can go hunting.'"
RSL currently has three Designated Players in forwards Alvaro Saborio, Sebastian Jaime and midfielder Javier Morales. Striker Joao Plata, who signed a new deal three weeks ago, is now considered a Young DP under league salary guidelines.
Monarchs update • Club president Rob Zarkos spoke to the Tribune Wednesday night regarding updates on RSL's incoming USL club team, Real Monarchs. He said the club could have as many as 14 official signings as of Thursday evening.
The Monarchs' roster size will fluctuate, Zarkos said, with various loan-downs and call-ups from RSL throughout the season, but he expects 14-to-17 full-time Monarchs players for the upcoming USL season.
An open tryout to sign a local player will be held March 2-3 at Monarchs Field. The training field will be in Lehi at the former Xango Field where RSL used to train prior to moving to American First Field near Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
Zarkos said the club and its coaching staff have been watching film of applicants and believe there are some hidden gems in the state.
"My feeling is that there are some guys in Salt Lake that have somehow fallen through the cracks because they didn't have the opportunities to [play at residential soccer academies] and they're going to be very good players," he said.
"I'm not doing this for PR," Zarkos added. "We're promising to sign one even if it's a developmental player because that's what we promised to do. But to be fair, if there's three legitimate guys there that are legitimate contenders to come in and play, we'll considering signing them."
(Hansen and Zarkos also spoke about the proposed Fairpark stadium deal currently hanging in the balance. Read here.)