MLS player salaries: From 'Pay the man!' to 'He makes how much?'
It's that time of year when the MLS Players Union releases the MLS player salaries and fans get to debate about who's overpaid and underpaid.
The list, put out by the MLSPA, has a long history of being inaccurate, and there are often bonuses that are excluded. Nevertheless, this is America, and we like lists of how much people are getting paid.
'Wait, he's making how much?'
In a salary-cap league, things have to be kept clean when it comes to player compensation, but there are several examples of teams shelling out too much for too little in return. Giovani dos Santos at $6 million total compensation heads the list. Eight goals and four assists since the start of 2017 is nowhere close to meeting expectations.
Philadelphia Union midfielder Borek Dockal's MLS career is still young, and he has shown glimpses, but seeing him at $1.7M was surprising. To be fair, the jury is still out, but thus far -- one goal, one assist -- does he look like a player who should be making more than, say, the New York Red Bulls' Bradley Wright-Phillips?
Along those lines is Real Salt Lake forward Alfredo Ortuno. Brought in to be the No. 9 Mike Petke's team lacked in 2017, Ortuno has just one goal in three games but is raking in a cool $1.1M. Ortuno could still blossom into the striker RSL craves, but that's a heavy number for a player with just one start so far.
Also worth considering are the players making a pretty penny while out on loan. Step forward, Yura Movsisyan. The forward never got out of Petke's doghouse at RSL and is now with Swedish club Djurgardens making $2.07M. The same goes for Portland midfielder Lucas Melano, who's receiving $1.05M while on loan at Estudiantes de La Plata in his native Argentina.
Lastly, an aging Tim Howard (39) at $2.4M a year with the Colorado Rapids, while 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Tim Melia of Sporting Kansas City, 2016 MLS Cup hero Stefan Frei of the Seattle Sounders and 2017 MLS Cup champion Alex Bono of Toronto FC making a combined $700,000 tells you all you need to know about the disparity there.
'Pay the man!'
There are a fair number of players making paltry salaries compared to their worth to their respective teams. For most, it's down to their young age; bigger paychecks are in their future either in MLS or overseas. What's interesting is that a good chunk of them play for the Red Bulls.
Midfielder Tyler Adams ($153K), defender Michael Amir Murillo ($88k) and midfielder Florian Valot ($71K) are among the standouts. Adams at 19 is already a stalwart and has become a U.S. national team regular. Look no further than last week's 4-0 drubbing of New York City FC to prove Panamanian defender Murillo is a steal at his price; ditto with French midfielder Valot, who has scored in each of the Red Bulls' past two matches.
Others of note are Sounders defender Nouhou, Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Alphonso Davies and LAFC forward Latif Blessing. Nouhou ($54.5K) has blossomed at left-back and was a playoff fixture for the Sounders in 2017. Davies ($72.5K) at 17 is off to a good start (1 goal, 3 assists) and surely on the radar of European clubs. And for what Blessing has brought from mostly off the bench this season at LAFC (2 goals, 1 assist, constant hustle), it's downright larceny that Bob Bradley got him for $84.3K.
Fun with numbers
The fourth-highest salary in the league belongs to Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, at $6.1M. Now consider the salaries of Atlanta United's dynamic trio of Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez, who combined make $1M less than Schweinsteiger alone. The former Bayern Munich man still excels and brings out the fans, but wouldn't teams prefer Atlanta's South American trio both at the gate and on the field?
Arguably the most amusing number of all comes out of Orlando, where a year after paying Kaka $7.1M, Orlando City's payroll is right around the $9M mark, down from $13.2M in 2017. Oh, and the Lions have won six straight and finally look poised to reach the playoffs for the first time in their history.