Off the PitchAug 09, 2018

History of the Executive Board

The affairs of the Players Association are directed by its Executive Board, a group of active MLS players who are chosen by the player representatives from each team.  The Board approves all PA expenditures, as well as all personnel and staffing decisions. In addition, the Board is the policy and decision making body of the Players Association, and its members are the PA’s chief officers.  As such, Board members are typically the most active and vocal leaders within the PA and serve as the liaison between the PA staff and all players. The Board collectively sets the tone and priorities for the PA and provides guidance to both PA staff and the player representatives with regard to implementing those priorities.

The original Executive Board that led the formation of the Players Association in April of 2003 included Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Chris Klein, Alexi Lalas, and Ben Olsen. With Tim Howard's departure from the league to Manchester United in August of that year, Steve Jolley was appointed as his replacement.

In April of 2004 a full new Board election was held, and Landon Donovan, Chris Klein, Ben Olsen, Eddie Pope, and Evan Whitfield were elected. Landon Donovan's return to Bayer Leverkusen and the departure of Eddie Pope (NY) and Evan Whitfield (CHI) as player representatives in early 2005 led to the election of new Board members Brian Ching, Jim Curtin and Jay Heaps.  All played an active role in the negotiation of the PA’s first Collective Bargaining Agreement, which took effect on December 1, 2004.

Amendments were made at this time to the Board selection process, allowing for staggered term elections and eligibility for active players who were not also serving as player representatives.  This was followed by a long period of continuity on the Board following the return of Landon Donovan to MLS and the elections of Jimmy Conrad and Pat Onstad over the next year. These three players, along with long-term Board members Chris Klein and Ben Olsen remained in office through 2009 and spearheaded the PA’s negotiation of the league’s second collective bargaining agreement, which took effect on February 1, 2010.

In 2010 Todd Dunivant, William Hesmer and Logan Pause all joined the Board replacing the retiring Klein, Olsen and Onstad.  The following year Jeff Larentowicz replaced Conrad following his retirement.They were joined by John Thorrington in July of 2013 after Hesmer’s retirement and then by Brad Evans later in the year after Thorrington’s retirement.This core group (Donovan, Dunivant, Evans, Larentowicz and Pause) led the Board, with Thorrington having stepped into a management role with the PA into its next collective bargaining negotiation with the league.

Sam Cronin and Dan Kennedy  replaced the retiring Donovan and Pause at the tail end of those negotiations, which culminated in the commencement of the PA’s third CBA in February of 2015.

The continued expansion of the player pool led players to increase the size of the Board from five to seven members in April, 2016.  The new Board consisted of Sam Cronin, Ethan Finlay, Clint Irwin, Dan Kennedy, Jeff Larentowicz, Jacob Peterson and Luis Robles. Scott Caldwell took over for the retiring Dan Kennedy in May of 2017.

Throughout its existence, the Players Association has been guided by the deep strength and commitment of its player leaders.  Nowhere has this quality been more evident than in the quality of the Executive Board. All past, present and future MLS players owe a debt of gratitude to these players.