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.Y. - Major League Soccer is prepared to start its season this weekend even if there isnt a labour deal with its referees and other on-field officials. The Professional Soccer Referee Association was certified by the National Labor Relations Board last May to represent referees, assistant referees and fourth officials working MLS games. It has not reached an agreement with the Professional Referee Organization, which was created by the U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS in 2012 to manage game officials in U.S. and Canadian professional leagues. The PSRA has filed a pair of unfair labour practice charges with the NLRBs New York office, accusing the PRO of bad-faith bargaining and making threats against PSRA members. PSRA members voted 64-1 last month to authorize an unfair labour practice strike. "We will be opening up this weekend with referees, and we are absolutely in a position to have a contingency plan in the event that those discussions dont end positively," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday. "We have so many things that were gearing up for with our 2014 season. Nothing is going to stop us from having a strong opening and to continue to grow this league." PSRA chairman Steve Taylor said there are economic and non-economic issues. "They have not made significant movement," he said of the PRO. Answering questions from reporters and fans during a season kickoff session, Garber said increasing the leagues television ratings is a priority. Viewers for national television broadcasts during the regular season dropped from an average of 180,000 viewers in 2012 to 170,000 last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. MLS has been negotiating with ESPN and Fox to replace deals with ESPN and NBC that expire at the end of this season. Garber said while quality of play, attendance, soccer-specific stadiums have increased, "our national television ratings have not grown at the same level." "So we need to figure out why thats happening. Obviously, theres a lot more competition than there ever was. Viewers have more alternatives. We need not to fight that but accept it and address it," he said. "Our games have been scheduled all over the week. Its been difficult even if you work in the league office to know what time and what day a game is taking place. So our new agreements will be very, very, very focused in terms of a specific date and time." Garber said progress has slowed on obtaining a new stadium for New York City FC, which joins the league along with Orlando, Fla., in 2015 as MLS expands to 21 teams. "Its tough to get stadium projects done in New York City, perhaps even a little more difficult now than it was maybe six months or a year ago," he said. MLS said in July it plans to reach 24 teams by 2020, and a Miami team has been awarded to former Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham, with no year identified for it to start play. Garber briefly discussed the expansion possibilities of several cities: Atlanta: "Were getting close. There are ongoing discussions. Theres not a rush to finalize something there. ... That time is probably sooner as opposed to later." Austin, Texas, and San Antonio: "Its premature for both markets. ... Expanding in Texas is something thats likely going to happen. Where that happens, when that happens is still to be seen." Cleveland: "There havent been any discussions of late. What I would say to folks that are living in Cincinnati, the folks that are living in Dayton, folks that are living Cleveland, support the Crew," a reference to the Columbus team. Detroit: "There havent been any discussions. Not sure its on the short list, but you never know." Minneapolis: "On the short list. Lots of interest there." North Carolina: "It is a hotbed for soccer. ... Well monitor it. ... Im not sure Carolina is coming any time soon." He also mentioned Sacramento as an expansion possibility. Gordon Beckham White Jersey
. Lowry led the Raptors to a 3-1 week, averaging 25.0 points per game, 8.0 assists and 2.3 steals. Frank Thomas White Jersey
. Beaulieu has four goals and 10 assists in 32 AHL games and had one assist in five games for Montreal this season. The 23-year-old Nattinen has five goals and six assists in 37 games for the Bulldogs this season.NEW YORK, N.Y. - Chicago right wing Patrick Kane has earned the NHLs first star of the month honours after leading the Blackhawks to 12 wins in 15 games in November. Pittsburgh Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin is the second star, while Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding was named the third star. Kane scored nine goals — including four game-winners — to rank second in the league, and helped the Blackhawks (2--4-4, 44 points) move into first in the NHL standings. He recorded at least a point in 13 of 15 games, and posted a career-long, 12-game point streak from Nov. 3-27. Malkin leed all players with 21 assists and 25 points, including a league-leading nine power-play assists and 10 power-play points, as the Penguins went 9-5-1 to remain atop the Metropolitan Division (18-9-1, 37 points). Nellie Fox Authentic
. Harding posted an 8-2-2 record with a 1.88 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and one shutout in helping the Wild go 9-4-2 and move into the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference (16-8-5, 37 points). He recorded his second shutout of the season (19 saves) in a 4-0 victory over New Jersey on Nov. 3 and allowed two or fewer goals in nine of 12 appearances. cheap nfl jerseys cheap jerseys
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