This year’s first round of MLS salary figures was published by the MLS Players Union on Monday. So it’s time for another analysis of the Union’s payroll, as well as significant figures from around the league.
My last analysis of 2012, published in October, can be found here.
Here’s the Union’s payroll for this year. The first figure is base salary and the second is guaranteed compensation. I’ve noted changes in pay where applicable.
It’s worth noting that players who the Union have loaned out have their salaries listed below, but do not count against the salary cap.
Chris Albright: $75,000.00 / $75,000.00 (Up from $55,000 / $55,000 last year)
Don Anding: $35,125.00 / $35,125.00 3
Brian Carroll: $176,400.00 / $176,400.00 (up from $168,000 / $168,000 last year)
Conor Casey: $175,000.00 / $175,000.00 (down from $400,000 / $400,000 last year at Colorado)
Danny Cruz: $120,000.00 / $126,500.00 (up from $100,000.00 / $106,500 last year)
Keon Daniel: $80,004.00 / $80,004.00 (up from $55,000.00 / $59,410.00 last year)
Gabriel Farfan: $50,820.00 / $50,820.00 (up from $46,200.00 / $46,200.00 last year)
Michael Farfan: $98,670.00 / $136,170.00 (up from $57,200.00 / $94,700.00 last year)
Leo Fernandes: $35,125.00 / $35,125.00 4
Raymon Gaddis: $46,500.00 / $46,500.00 (up from $33,750.00 / $33,750.00 last year)
Cristhian Hernández: $62,500.00 / $64,375.00 (up from $52,500.00 / $54,375.00 last year) 2
Antoine Hoppenot: $48,400.00 / $48,400.00 (up from $44,000.00 / $44,000.00 last year)
Greg Jordan: $46,500.00 / $46,500.00 (up from $44,000.00 / $44,000.00 last year)
Matt Kassel: $46,500.00 / $46,500.00
Kléberson: $495,000.00 / $495,000.00 1
Chris Konopka: $46,500.00 / $46,500.00 (up from $44,000.00 / $44,000.00 last year)
Michael Lahoud: $90,000.00 / $93,333.33 (up from $75,196.00 / $84,571.00 last year)
Sébastien Le Toux: $200,000.00 / $212,812.50 (up from $145,000.000 / $169,000.00 last year with New York)
Zac MacMath: $110,000.00 / $155,000.00 (up from $90,000.00 / $135,000.00 last year) 4
Jack McInerney: $125,500.00 / $189,666.67 (up from $76,000.00 / $140,166.67 last year) 4
Jimmy McLaughlin: $60,000.00 / $69,000.00 (up from $48,000.00 / $57,000.00 last year) 2 3
Amobi Okugo: $101,250.00 / $184,250.00 (up from $90,000.000 / $173,000.00 last year) 4
Jeff Parke: $205,000.00 / $216,500.00 (up from $185,325.00 / $185,325.00 last year with Seattle)
Zach Pfeffer: $65,000.00 / $75,000.00 (up from $60,000.00 / $70,000.00 last year) 2 5
Bakary Soumaré: $310,000.00 / $350,000.00 (up from $240,000.00 / $280,000.00 last year)
Roger Torres: $121,968.00 / $125,093.00 (up from $116,160.00 / $119,285.00 last year)
Carlos Valdés: $321,000.00 / $321,000.00 (up from $268,000.00 / $268,000.00 last year) 6
Aaron Wheeler: $46,500.00 / $46,500.00
Sheanon Williams: $105,000.00 / $110,500.00 (up from $85,000.00 / $85,000.00 last year)
1 - Designated Player
2 - Homegrown Player
3 - Is or was at some point this year on loan to Harrisburg through the MLS-USL PRO partnership, so the Union still pay that salary
4 - Graduated from Generation Adidas after last season, so their salaries count against the cap
5 - On loan to German club TSG Hoffenheim, so his salary does not count against the cap
6 - On loan to Colombian club Independiente Santa Fe, so his salary does not count against the cap
I noted above that the Union’s payroll as compiled by the MLSPU includes the salaries of Pfeffer and Valdés. This skews a comparison of the Union’s payroll to those of the other 18 teams in MLS.
Nonetheless, it’s always interesting to see how the clubs stack up. So use these figures as ballpark estimates:
1. New York Red Bulls: $10,008,068.42 / $10,860,960.17
2. Los Angeles Galaxy: $9,026,930.00 / $9,685,263.33
3. Seattle Sounders: $5,363,796.00 / $5,958,812.66
4. Montréal Impact: $3,873,058.00 / $5,288,699.58
5. Vancouver Whitecaps: $4,308,121.00 / $4,809,277.98
6. Toronto FC: $3,897,245.96 / $4,710,844.29
7. Chicago Fire: $3,700,545.00 / $4,333,357.33
8. FC Dallas: $3,632,343.50 / $4,244,860.17
9. D.C. United: $3,464,413.00 / $3,906,064.57
10. Philadelphia Union: $3,499,262.00 / $3,832,574.50
11. Sporting Kansas City: $3,436,085.00 / $3,783,881.54
12. Houston Dynamo: $3,288,333.50 / $3,648,640.17
13. Real Salt Lake: $3,280,017.00 / $3,646,402.40
14. Columbus Crew: $3,169,668.00 / $3,617,001.34
15. Portland Timbers: $3,212,976.00 / $3,564,501.31
16. New England Revolution: $2,991,132.63 / $3,476,086.00
17. San Jose Earthquakes: $3,177,362.50 / $3,371,907.78
18. Colorado Rapids: $2,942,401.20 / $3,371,325.48
19. Chivas USA: $2,452,032.50 / $2,607,146.13
At the end of last year, the Union's payroll was $2,861,006.08 / $3,356,310.25, which ranked 15th overall in MLS.
Here are the top salaries in MLS right now. I usually list 25, but some of the players below are on loan abroad. So I’ve added a few more to make up for them:
1. Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls: $3,750,000.00 / $4,350,000.00
2. Robbie Keane, Los Angeles Galaxy: $4,000,000.00 / $4,333,333.33
3. Tim Cahill, New York Red Bulls: $3,500,000.00 / $3,625,000.00
4. Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy: $2,500,000.00 / $2,500,000.00
5. Marco Di Vaio, Montréal Impact: $1,000,008.00 / $1,937,508.00
6. Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders: $1,600,000.00 / $1,725,000.00
7. Danny Koevermans, Toronto FC: $1,250,000.00 / $1,663,323.33
8. Kenny Miller, Vancouver Whitecaps: $1,114,992.00 / $1,132,492.00
9. Fredy Montero, Seattle Sounders: $700,000.00 / $856,000.00 (on loan to Colombian club Millionarios)
10. David Ferreira, FC Dallas: $625,000.00 / $730,000.00
11. Dwayne De Rosario, D.C. United: $600,000.00 / $645,333.33
12. Federico Higuaín, Columbus Crew: $440,000.00 / $604,000.00
13. Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes: $550,000.00 / $600,000.00
14. Shalrie Joseph, Seattle Sounders: $540,000.00 / $599,333.33
15. Sherjill MacDonald, Chicago Fire: $400,000.00 / $527,125.00
16. Kléberson, Philadelphia Union: $495,000.00 / $495,000.00
17. Darren O'Dea, Toronto FC: $350,000.00 / $456,250.00
18. Álvaro Saborío, Real Salt Lake: $360,000.00 / $453,333.33
19. Kalifa Cissé, New England Revolution: $400,000.00 / $445,000.00
20. Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers: $400,000.00 / $400,000.00
21. Jay DeMerit, Vancouver Whitecaps: $325,000.00 / $375,000.00
22. Brad Davis, Houston Dynamo: $325,000.00 / $372,062.50
23. Arne Friedrich, Chicago Fire: $300,000.00 / $367,500.00
24. Álvaro Fernández, Chicago Fire: $300,000.00 / $366,666.67 (on loan to Qatari club Al-Rayyan)
25. Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew: $330,000.00 / $361,250.00
26. Chris Pontius, D.C. United: $330,000.00 / $361,000.00
27. Bakary Soumaré, Philadelphia Union: $310,000.00 / $350,000.00
If you remember last year’s salary data, you may have realized that there has been a big drop in high-end salaries leaguewide. This is because many Designated Players left MLS after last season.
Among the most prominent departures were the league’s second- and third-highest-paid players, Rafael Márquez and David Beckham. Other high earners who are now gone include Torsten Frings, Julian de Guzman, and Kris Boyd.
The best-paid new arrival in MLS is Seattle forward Obafemi Martins.
I find it noteworthy that the top 13 salaries in the league right now are being paid to forwards and/or creative midfielders.
I also find it noteworthy that just six of the players listed above are Americans.
As has been the case for a while now, Dwayne De Rosario is MLS’ highest-paid non-Designated Player. To the best of my knowledge, a total of five non-DPs are above the DP salary threshold of $368,750: De Rosario, O’Dea, Cissé, DeMerit, and Davis. Those salaries are paid down with allocation money.
I count a total of 26 active Designated Players right now. Ten of them earn salaries below the official DP threshold, but are given that status for other reasons. Some are classified as Young Designated Players based on those players’ ages, and others are DPs because of the transfer fees required to buy them.
To the best of my knowledge – and I really need to use that hedge here because the rules are a bit vague on this – three of the aforementioned 10 players are young DPs, and six are transfer fee DPs.
The one remaining is Real Salt Lake’s Javier Morales. His posted guaranteed salary is $300,000, but I’m told he breaks the DP threshold when you count his potential bonuses.
Morales is named as a designated player on MLS’ official list of them.
If I am wrong about the following lists, let me know and I’ll update the list.
Fabián Castillo, FC Dallas
Matías Laba, Toronto FC
Rafael Texiera de Souza, D.C. United
Transfer Fee DPs
Jerry Bengtson, New England Revolution
Claudio Bieler, Sporting Kansas City
Diego Chará, Portland Timbers
Óscar Boniek Garciá, Houston Dynamo
Oswaldo Minda, Chivas USA
Mauro Rosales, Seattle Sounders
Leaguewide, MLS is paying out $79,040,041.21 in base salary and $89,035,856.75 in guaranteed compensation to a total of 557 players.
There are currently two pool goalkeepers on the league’s books. Both make the league minimum in both base salary and guaranteed compensation:
Doug Herrick: $35,125.00 / $35,125.00
Brad Stuver: $35,125.00 / $35,125.00
(For their sacrifices, they deserve to have their names in bold type every once in a while.)
There are also five players who are unassigned. As far as I know, they were on guaranteed contracts before their teams released them, they get the money that they are owed.
Those players are:
Paulo Araujo Jr.: $60,000.00 / $60,000.00, last with Vancouver Whitecaps
Nico Muniz: $46,500.00 / $48,500.00, last with Real Salt Lake
Rauwshan McKenzie: $46,500.00 / $46,500.00, last with Chivas USA
César Pizarro: $46,500.00 / $46,500.00, last with San Jose Earthquakes
Matthew Stinson: $46,500.00 / $46,500.00, last with Toronto FC
Here are some other noteworthy stats.
Mean (average) salary: $141,903.13 / $159,848.93
Median (middle) salary: $75,000.00 / $89,218.83
Mode (most common) salary: $46,500.00 / $46,500.00
I find it noteworthy that the mean salary has dropped considerably since last October, but the median and mode salaries have risen.
Highest salary: $3,750,000.00 / $4,350,000.00 (Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls)
Lowest salary: $35,125.00 / $35,125.00 (59 players)
Henry retains the crown as the highest-paid player in MLS. He first took over the top spot at the start of 2012, when David Beckham took a pay cut from his 2011 salary. Henry took a pay cut this year, and a considerable one at that. Last year, he made $5,000,000.00 / $5,600,000.00.
Union players making the league minimum include 2013 SuperDraft pick Don Anding and 2013 Supplemental Draft pick Leo Fernandes.
I find it noteworthy that at the time of the last salary data release, 39 players were making the league minimum. Though the minimum salary level has increased since then, the number of players making that amount has also risen considerably.
Ten of the 59 players are products of MLS club academies – and four of those 10 play for Montréal. Most of the remaining 49 players were draft picks this year.
There's one last thing I want to mention. Sometimes in the past, the mode salary has been the league minimum, and I've expressed concern about that. This time, the mode is over $10,000 higher than the minimum.
Compiling a mode salary is not always a fair measurement in a way, because you only have to change a number by one cent for it to not be counted in the figure.
But as a symbol, it's a sign of good health for the league that the mode is higher than the minimum. A lot of MLS players make salaries that are much closer to those of average Americans than average athletes.
Cities such as Washington, New York, San Jose and Vancouver aren't cheap places to live, and many of their suburbs aren't either. Yes, professional athletes lead lives that many of us dream us living. But there are plenty of people across MLS for whom reality isn't so ideal.
Whenever MLS salary figures are published, I pay as much attention to the low end of the scale as I do to the high end. Whether you do the same is your choice, but I hope you'll at least consider it.