MLS players vote to strike if deal isn’t reached

From staff and wire reports

Major League Soccer players have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike if a new bargaining agreement with the league is not reached by the season opener March 25.

The labor contract expired in January but was extended twice as negotiations for a new deal continued. However, three days of meetings between league and union officials this week in Washington failed to break the impasse, leading to the strike vote.

“We were disappointed to see comments from a number of players characterizing the status of the negotiations and the possibility of a strike,” league President Mark Abbott said in a statement released Thursday. “The meetings this week were productive and we have scheduled a number of additional meetings.”

League owners pledged not to lock players out and have offered to start the season under the old labor contract. But the players want expanded free agency and a higher percentage of guaranteed deals.

If a strike happens, it would mark the first labor stoppage in MLS’ 14-year history.

An official for Chivas USA declined to comment on the situation other than to say the team is “conducting business as usual” in preparation for its season opener March 26 at the Home Depot Center. The Galaxy, which is scheduled to open its season at the Home Depot Center a night later, also declined to comment.

-- Kevin Baxter


Suspected gang member Willie Clark was found guilty of murder in Denver in the drive-by shooting death of Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams after a New Year’s Eve outing three years ago.

Clark showed no emotion as the verdict was read but leaned back and looked at the ceiling after the jury was dismissed. He gave a small smile to relatives before he was taken from the courtroom in handcuffs.

He faces life in prison at his April 30 sentencing.

LaDainian Tomlinson left the Minnesota Vikings’ facility without a deal in place and was on his way to New York to visit the Jets.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations told the Associated Press that the star running back spent several hours at Vikings headquarters Thursday but did not reach agreement on a contract. The person requested anonymity because negotiations were continuing.

Tomlinson emerged from the meetings shortly after 5 p.m. CST clutching a purple Vikings jersey. But he did not comment before leaving in a black limousine.

The Oakland Raiders released defensive tackle Gerard Warren after three seasons with the organization.

Warren is the fourth veteran the Raiders have released in the last week. He follows running back Justin Fargas, defensive end Greg Ellis and receiver Javon Walker.

Matt Moore signed his one-year, $3.043-million tender with the Carolina Panthers, who have declared him the starting quarterback going into training camp.

Defensive tackle Tank Johnson has signed a four-year deal to stay with the Cincinnati Bengals.


First baseman Todd Helton and the Colorado Rockies agreed to a $9.9-million, two-year contract extension through the 2013 season.

The first baseman is earning $16.6 million this year, and he agreed to defer $13.1 million of his $19.1-million salary in 2011 over a 10-year period beginning in 2014.

Colorado had a $23-million option for 2012 with a $4.6-million buyout as part of the $141.5-million, nine-year contract that began with the 2003 season. Instead, he will receive $4.9 million in 2012 under the new deal.


Lindsey Vonn may have crashed in the giant slalom Thursday, but she got some good news after the race at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The International Skiing Federation confirmed Vonn as the super-combined World Cup champion. She already had secured the downhill and super-G titles.

Vonn secured the super-combined title when the third race of the season in the event was canceled because of bad weather last week in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

That left Vonn with 160 points from two races, and Anja Paerson of Sweden second with 150. FIS confirmed that two races were enough for Vonn to win the title.

A high school in Washington, D.C., has hired a woman to coach its varsity football team.

Natalie Randolph will be introduced Friday as the head coach at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School. She is believed to be the first woman to coach a high school varsity football team in the U.S.

The 29-year-old Randolph was an assistant coach at another D.C. high school, H.D. Woodson, from 2006-08.

Two-time WNBA most valuable player Lauren Jackson re-signed with the Seattle Storm.

The team announced that it signed Jackson to a multiyear contract.

Miami Beach police say Heat forward Dorell Wright has been charged with DUI and driving with a suspended license.

Wright was stopped about 3:30 a.m. Thursday, then booked. Bond was set at $1,000, according to Miami-Dade County corrections officials.