Atlanta United’s newest acquisition certainly has the speed and power for Major League Soccer. That’s because he has four legs, and he’s a puppy named Spike.
The 12-week-old Labrador retriever joins the club as a “designated puppy” in partnership with America’s VetDogs, a nonprofit that provides service dogs to U.S. veterans and disabled first-responders. Spike, who is named after Atlanta’s “golden spike” goal celebration, is being trained to become a service dog.
He arrived to Atlanta via a private jet from Smithtown, New York, where America’s VetDogs is located, and got a chance to cuddle with the likes of Josef Martinez and meet the rest of the team.
But as cute as Spike is, the MLS Players Association was quick to note that the “designated puppy” received nicer travel accommodations than actual designated players do in MLS throughout most of the year. The MLSPA account tweeted rhetorically, “…Is that a charter flight?”
…is that a charter flight? 🧐 https://t.co/k97GAWpzp5
— MLSPA (@MLSPA) January 23, 2020
Under the current collective bargaining agreement between MLS and the players, teams may only fly to or from games via charter flights up to four times per year. That means teams mostly fly commercial, dealing with the long security longs, layovers and the other inconveniences of cross-country travel.
The timing of the MLSPA’s tweet is not a coincidence — the union is in ongoing negotiations with the league for a new CBA before the 2020 season, and the MLSPA has been public about pushing for more charter flights. The current CBA expires Jan. 31.