Major League Soccer and its players' union agreed in principle to a five-year labor contract, averting a possible strike ahead of Friday's season opener.

The deal, the culmination of talks that began last weekend in Washington, D.C., was announced Wednesday night and would replace the contract that expired Jan. 31.

Under the agreement, players 28 and older could become free agents if they have eight seasons of MLS service and their contracts have expired, a person familiar with the details said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the details had not yet been announced.

The minimum salary would rise to $60,000, the person said. The minimum generally was $48,500 last year, but the prior deal contained a provision in which some players could be paid as low as $36,500.

"This agreement will provide a platform for our players, ownership and management to work together to help build Major League Soccer into one of the great soccer leagues in the world," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.

MLS's 20th season begins this weekend, with the defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy hosting Chicago in the opener. The Fire traveled to California on Wednesday for the match.

"We are pleased to finally turn our fans attention back to our players and the competition on the field as we get started on the 2015 season," Bob Foose, executive director of the MLS Players Union, said in a statement.

Orlando and former FIFA Player of the Year Kaka host New York City and former Spanish World Cup champion David Villa on Sunday in the debut of the expansion teams that raise the league's total to 20 teams.


Lloyd scores two for U.S. women

Carli Lloyd scored two goals and the U.S. women's national team opened the Algarve Cup in Portugal with a 2-1 victory over Norway.

Hope Solo made her first appearance in goal for the second-ranked U.S. women this year following a 30-day suspension from the team.

The 12-team field this year includes nine teams that will play in the Women's World Cup in Canada starting in June.


Scott switches putters

Adam Scott plans to use a conventional putter when he makes his 2015 debut on Thursday at the Cadillac Championship in Doral, Fla.

Scott last used a conventional putter in competition at the Sony Open just over four years ago. Since switching to a long putter, he has won the Masters and reached No. 1 in the world. A new rule on anchoring that takes effect in 2016 means a change was going to be inevitable.

Royal St. George's will allow women

Royal St. George's, one of the three clubs used for the British Open with a male-only membership policy, has voted to allow female members for the first time. The club said more than 81 percent of its full members took part in a ballot, and 90 percent voted in favor of women being eligible for membership.

around the horn

College baseball: A new flat-seam ball is having the desired effect, with teams hitting 40 percent more home runs so far this season.

College football: Virginia Tech running back Shai McKenzie was suspended indefinitely from all football-related activities. He was charged with two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the Christiansburg, Va., police announced Wednesday.

Skiing: The International Ski Federation said a women's super-G race that was canceled twice won't be replaced on the World Cup schedule. The decision leaves Lindsey Vonn, the four-time super-G title winner, only two races to overhaul Anna Fenninger's 32-point lead in the standings.

Associated Press