Washington - Major League Soccer has averted a players' strike, ensuring the 2015 season will kick off this weekend after agreeing on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement.
"We are pleased to finalize the framework for a new collective bargaining agreement with our players," MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
"We now enter our 20th season with enormous momentum with our new television partnerships, dynamic star players from the US, Canada and abroad, and two new expansion teams in New York City and Orlando that will debut in front of more than 60,000 fans on Sunday in the Citrus Bowl.
"This agreement will provide a platform for our players, ownership and management to work together to help build Major League Soccer into one of the great soccer leagues in the world."
Meeting for the fourth straight day on Wednesday at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service offices, the two sides overcame significant differences.
The joint announcement by the league and players' union gave few details, but multiple US media outlets reported the deal allows for the introduction of limited free agency, with conditions based on age and experience of the player.
The new agreement also raises minimum salaries and sets guidelines for salary increases.
"We are pleased to announce that we have reached a new collective bargaining agreement with the league," said Bob Foose, Executive Director of the MLS Players Union. "We are pleased to finally turn our fans attention back to our players and the competition on the field as we get started on the 2015 season."
The Los Angeles Galaxy will open their quest for a fourth title in five seasons on Friday against visiting Chicago.
On Sunday, Orlando City will launch their first MLS campaign against another much-anticipated newcomer: New York City FC.
With the tense negotiations for the new deal to replace the agreement that expired on January 31 behind them, MLS can look forward to a celebratory 20th season.
Work stoppages have delivered staggering blows to the National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League. A strike could have undone many of the gains MLS has made in raising the game's profile in America.
In the past five years, MLS has added six teams, signed a television deal worth $720 million and enjoyed record average crowds above 19,000 spectators a game, many at smaller stadiums built especially for MLS clubs.
MLS claims it loses $100 million a year but team values have leaped 10-fold over the past decade to more than $110 million and such partners as David Beckham, Manchester City and baseball's New York Yankees are eager to back teams.
Five years ago, a strike was averted only when a federal mediator hammered out a deal five days before the season began.