The U.S. Soccer Federation has indefinitely postponed the start of training camp for the U.S. men's national team because of a contract dispute with its players. The impasse could jeopardize American hopes of reaching the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The U.S. team was scheduled to open camp Monday in California near Los Angeles to prepare for its opening match in the final round of World Cup qualifying on February 9 Trinidad and Tobago. However, USSF officials said a deal needed to be reached by Tuesday to ensure that camp would open on time.
USSF spokesman Jim Moorhouse says no training sessions will be scheduled until a collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association is reached.
The previous agreement expired two years ago, but the players have been participating in USSF events under the terms of the earlier deal. Under the USSF's new proposal, the players would receive a 38 percent increase. USSF officials claim the players are asking for a 108 percent increase. The USSF has given the union a February 1 deadline to finalize a deal, or else the federation would begin assembling replacement players for the World Cup qualifiers.
The United States is among six regional nations vying for three automatic berths in the next World Cup. The U.S. national team is scheduled to play 10 qualifiers between February and October.