MLS referees united to form the Professional Soccer Referees Association. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

MLS referees united to form the Professional Soccer Referees Association. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Major League Soccer season opened last weekend under the presumably watchful eyes of scores of officials who didn’t know until game day that they’d be on the job.

The league had locked out its referees absent a collective bargaining agreement with the recently formed Professional Soccer Referees Association.

Though the league and the officials do not seem to be far apart in terms the total amount of compensation over the term of the agreement, MLS negotiator Peter Walton has indicated that the league is unlikely to sign unless the referees accept a “no strike” provision in the agreement.

Locking out workers because they won’t agree to give up one of the few strategies left to labor is a tactic bound to concern MLS’s players when they next come to the table. Meanwhile, fans of the game can only hope that the replacement officials will fare better than did their counterparts in the NFL when that league began the 2012 season after locking out their officials, and the league comes to see that wisdom of reaching an agreement with the referees’ union for the sake of the integrity of the league and the safety of the players.