Rooney: American players in MLS are underpaid

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Jose L. Argueta
The D.C. United star says he believes that there should be changes as the collective bargaining agreement negotiations edge closer

Wayne Rooney says that he believes American players in MLS are underpaid as the league heads towards negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement this winter.

Rooney has been with D.C. United since summer 2018, although his stay in MLS is set to conclude after the current season as the legendary Manchester United and Everton striker will head back to England to join Derby County.

The league's existing collective bargaining agreement is due to expire on Jan. 31, 2020, with players having previously threatened to strike before a final-hour deal during the last negotiations in 2015.

This time around, the focus is on increased salaries, better travel accommodations and increased player movement, having secured a limited form of free agency during the last set of negotiations four years ago. 

With players still flying on non-charter flights and being paid in accordance with the league's salary cap structure, Rooney says he believes MLS players deserve more than what they are currently getting.

"I feel that American players get underpaid," he told ESPN. "I feel they deserve to get more money to stay in line with football in the rest of the world but also in terms of the American sports.

"I'm not saying it to benefit me, I obviously won't be in the league next season. I think it's only fair to those players who are putting in the same work as all have to earn the right to earn more money for doing it."

He added: "I think the flight issues, in terms of you get so many chartered flights, I believe if a team wants chartered flights than they should be able to charter as many they want. They should be able to do whatever they want with that."

Rooney has scored 23 goals in 45 league appearances for D.C. United, although the former England striker has recently missed a string matches due to illness and a red card suspension.

D.C. currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, despite some up-and-down play, as the club look set to return to the postseason.

Despite the team's inconsistencies, Rooney says he's confident in the team's chances as his time in D.C. nears an end, saying that he thinks the group is ready for the home stretch.

"I think the difference is that last season we played with a lot of confidence in that we had nothing to lose. We went into games, and obviously we had a lot of home games, but we played with a lot of confidence and we were building results in that push to make the playoffs.

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"This year, from a team point of view, has been more inconsistent but we have been for a long time and all season we have been in a playoff spot so I think that's the league.

"It's quite inconsistent and the teams that manage to get a few wins on the bounce will have a great chance to make the playoffs."

 

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