MLS News: Donovan Wants to Extend Loan, League and Union Agree to Mediation

There is a lot of news coming out of the MLS world today. First, Landon Donovan has told LA Galaxy executives that he would prefer to stay in the Premiership and extend his loan to Everton. Per the Telegraph: ↵
↵⇥"I have told the Galaxy what I want," Donovan said. "They know what is going on. I speak to [Galaxy general manager Bruce Arena] fairly often and at this point it is a conversation the two clubs must have. I cannot end the season here, so I would have to go back on April 15 at the very latest. ↵⇥

↵⇥"Both Everton and the Galaxy know I would like to stay, but logistically it is harder than just saying I want to or I am going to stay. There are a lot of factors involved, and we will see what the Galaxy want. I think we will have a lot more information this week." Donovan's American employers have been unequivocal in their determination to see the player return home on March 15, with Arena reiterating the point over the weekend. "We are not interested [in extending the loan]," he said. "We are being consistent with everything we have said all along." ↵⇥

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↵It's a tough spot for Donovan, who is clearly thriving with Everton and wants to stay as long as he's able. Yet just a year ago, Donovan was quoted questioning the commitment of Galaxy teammate David Beckham, in part because of Beckham's want to stay in a more competitive international soccer league rather than play in MLS. Now Donovan finds himself in the same situation, hoping to extend his loan while not alienating the league that has helped make him a star. ↵

↵On Donovan's side for securing a loan extension is the fact that, as of today, there is still no deal between MLS and the player's union. That said, the two sides really seem to be handling this the right way. There has yet to be a strike or a lockout and while both sides are clearly frustrated, they have not taken the fight to the media. ↵

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↵Next comes news that the two sides have agreed to bring in a mediator to help the negotiation process. George H. Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), will now help both sides work out a deal. This is not traditional arbitration and Cohen's will not provide a binding ruling on the matter, but he will help facilitate a resolution to the labor issues. If they want to get a deal done, there may not be anyone better than Cohen to help. Here's his bio, in part, from the FMCS website: ↵

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↵⇥Confirmed by the unanimous consent of the the U.S. Senate on October 5, 2009, George H. Cohen was sworn in as Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on October 8, 2009. He was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 6, 2009. ↵⇥

↵⇥Director Cohen has had an extensive and distinguished career as a labor lawyer, negotiator, and mediator. He is a graduate of Cornell University and its Law School and earned a LLM degree from Georgetown Law. He is a member of the prestigious Mediation Panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and has successfully mediated numerous, complex, high-profile disputes. ↵⇥

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↵You really can't fault either side for how they've handled this, or for what their expectations for a new deal seem to be. It still all comes down to the sticking point of free agency. Bringing in Cohen could help matters, but the clock is ticking until opening day. Will either side start the season if a deal isn't in place? And will Donovan be in uniform when the season eventually begins? It's an important few weeks for MLS.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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