Federal mediators enter MLS referees' lockout

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando lies on the field in pain after blocking a shot from the Los Angeles Galaxy in the second half of an MLS soccer game in Carson, Calif., Saturday, March 8, 2014. Real Salt Lake won, 1-0. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal mediator has entered talks involving locked out Major League Soccer referees.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said Friday that acting director Scot L. Beckenbaugh and Jack Sweeney, its director of mediation services for the northeast sub-region, had held several lengthy sessions with the Professional Referee Organization and the Professional Soccer Referees Association.

PRO, which manages on-field officials for Major League Soccer, locked out the game officials on March 7 and used replacements for openers last weekend. The officials formed a union last year, and the sides have not agreed to a contract.