The Major League Soccer Players' Union skipped over its midsummer release of salary figures this year, but made up for that by filling its annual September release with lots of news.
As this release includes signings during the summer transfer window, we now know how much the Union are paying goalkeeper Raïs Mbolhi: $240,000 in guaranteed salary.
We also have fresh glimpses of what some of the players who will join next year's expansion teams, New York City FC and Orlando City, will be paid. The big headline here is that former Brazilian national team star Kaká will be making a guaranteed salary of over $7 million in his first MLS season. That will be by far the highest salary in league history.
Many veteran MLS observers season the salary data with a healthy dose of skepticism, and the latest release is ripe for it. David Villa, the former Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Spanish national team striker who was New York's first marquee signing, is listed as making just $60,000. Considering that he was signed as a Designated Player, it is a safe bet that he is making far more than that.
(The answer may lie in the fact that a few hours after the salary release, City announced that Villa has been loaned to Melbourne City of Australia's A-League. No, it's not a coincidence that clubs in Manchester, New York and Melbourne all have the same nickname.)
We also know nothing about what City's other marquee signing, Frank Lampard, will make. That may be because he is currently on loan to Manchester City, but the Players' Union has at times in the past listed salaries for players out on loan.
Monday's release comes as the end looms for MLS' current collective bargaining agreement with the Players' Union. It expires on December 31. On Friday, the Washington Post's Steven Goff reported that both sides have already started making some preliminary moves.
One such move came to light Monday evening, just minutes before the salary data was released. ESPN's Jeff Carlisle reported that Chivas USA will suspend operations after the 2014 season ends, and that MLS has found a buyer for the troubled southern California franchise that will aim to move the club into Los Angeles proper. According to Carlisle, it is likely that the new Los Angeles team would not launch until after the 2016 season.
It's also worth noting that the latest salary release is the first since MLS unveiled its new eight-year, $720 million media rights deal with ESPN, Fox and Univision that will begin next season.
A quick refresher on how roster slots work: MLS rules permit teams to carry up to 30 players on its roster, with 20 roster slots counting towards the budget cap. A team can leave a maximum of two of those 20 roster slots open if it wants to.
Players who do not count against the cap are broken into two categories. Slots 21-24 are paid at least $48,500 in salary, and slots 25-30 are paid at least $36,500.
Generation Adidas player salaries and up to two Homegrown Player salaries are exempted from the cap in full. Designated Player salaries are exempted for the portion above the leaguewide threshold of $387,500, but any transfer fee paid to sign a DP counts towards the budget charge.
(Cristian Maidana is an example of this.)
From what I can tell, this data does not include the raises given to Ray Gaddis and Carlos Valdés from their new contracts.
Each player listed has two salary figures. The first is base salary and the second is guaranteed compensation. Changes from last April's salary release are noted in parentheses.
Also, and very importantly: This is just my estimation of which players are on the main roster and which are not. It is not official.
Main Roster Slots 1-20 (20 players)
GK Zac MacMath: $120,000.00 / $120,000.00 (no change)
GK Raïs Mbolhi: $240,000 / $240,000 (summer signing)
D Austin Berry: $86,994.00 / $101,994.00 (no change)
D Fabinho: $96,000.00 / $100,500.00 (no change)
D Raymon Gaddis: $52,313.00 / $52,313.00 (no change)
D Carlos Valdés: $294,999.96 / $294,999.96 (summer signing)
D Ethan White: $80,000.00 / $80,000.00 (no change)
D Sheanon Williams: $ 125,000.00 / $130,500.00 (no change)
M Fred Carreiro da Silva: $65,460.00 / $65,460.00 (no change)
M Brian Carroll: $185,220.00 / $185,220.00 (no change)
M Danny Cruz: $125,000.00 / $131,666.67 (no change)
M Maurice Edu: $650,000.00 / $650,000.00 (no change) 1
M Michael Lahoud: $99,000.00 / $102,333.33 (no change)
M Sébastien Le Toux: $250,000.00 / $262,812.50 (no change)
M Cristian Maidana: $185,000.00 / $198,750.00 (no change) 12
M Jimmy McLaughlin: $66,000.00 / $75,000.00 (no change) 34
M Vincent Nogueira: $330,000.00 / $330,000.00 (no change)
M Amobi Okugo: $145,000.00 / $228,000.00 (no change)
M Andrew Wenger: $140,000.00 / $242,000.00 (no change)
F Conor Casey: $192,500.00 / $192,500.00 (no change)
Slots 21-24 (4 players)
M Corben Bone: $48,825.00 / $51,325.00 (no change)
F Brian Brown: $48,504.00 / $53,004.00 (summer signing)
F Antoine Hoppenot: $54,450.00 / $54,450.00 (no change)
F Aaron Wheeler: $48,825.00 / $ 48,825.00 (no change) 4
Slots 25-30 (6 players)
GK Andre Blake: $75,000.00 / $113,000.00 (no change) 5
D Richard Marquez: $36,504.00 / $36,504.00 (no change) 4
M Leo Fernandes: $48,500.00 / $48,500.00 (no change)
M Cristhian Hernández: $72,500.00 / $74,375.00 no change) 34
M Zach Pfeffer: $75,000.00 / $85,000.00 (no change) 3
M Pedro Ribeiro: $36,504.00 / $36,504.00 (no change)
1 - Designated Player.
2 - See explanation above on how a transfer fee is factored into a Designated Player cap charge.
3 - Homegrown Player.
4 - Loaned to Harrisburg City Islanders via USL Pro affiliation.
5 - Generation Adidas.
All in all, the Union's current payroll stands at $4,073,098.96 in base salary and $4,385,536.46 in guaranteed compensation.
Here's how the Union's payroll stacks up against the rest of Major League Soccer. Note that these numbers include the salaries of all players in the Players Union's pool. Changes in expenditure and rank from last April's salary release are noted in parentheses.
Ranked by current guaranteed compensation:
1. Toronto FC: $15,686,628.50 / $16,712,603.18 (+$76,862.00 / +$63,745.33, no change)
2. Los Angeles Galaxy: $12,375,473.00 / $13,159,910.50 ($84,000.00 / $105,666.67, no change)
3. Seattle Sounders: $9,396,634.00 / $11,504,761.29 (-$237,325.00 / -$282,825.25, no change)
4. New York Red Bulls: $10,268,811.00 / $11,323,145.08 ($73,657.00 / $77,361.21, no change)
5. New England Revolution: $6,362,933.00 / $7,257,915.29 (+$3,478,530.00 / +$3,825,493.23, up 13 places)
6. Montréal Impact: $5,080,914.04 / $6,579,014.04 (+$502,000.04 / +$511,875.04, no change)
7. Portland Timbers: $5,283,726.12 / $5,429,636.23 (+$1,509,808.00 / +$1,507,308.00, up 4 places)
8. Vancouver Whitecaps: $4,542,729.00 / $5,168,608.09 (-$868,829.00 / -$981,829.00, down 3 places)
9. FC Dallas: $4,041,037.00 / $4,572,162.00 (-$89,367.00 / -$73,117.00, down 2 places)
10. Houston Dynamo: $4,027,369.00 / $4,481,881.50 (+$802,500.00 / +$821,166.67, up 5 places)
11. Sporting Kansas City: $4,143,312.00 / $4,398,100.76 (+$643,850.00 / +$666,488.89, up 2 places)
12. Philadelphia Union: $4,073,098.96 / $4,385,536.46 (+$151,999.96 / +$153,612.46, down 3 places)
13. San Jose Earthquakes: $3,957,076.00 / $4,349,505.20 (-$18,504.00 / +$22,329.33, down 5 places)
14. Real Salt Lake: $3,647,515.00 / $4,001,964.17 (+$160,996.00 / +$170,329.33, down 2 places)
15. D.C. United: $3,471,746.92 / $3,960,395.78 (-$163,175.08 / -$137,654.24, down 5 places)
16. Chicago Fire: $3,529,746.00 / $3,771,132.08 (+$139,179.00 / +$139,720.67, no change)
17. Columbus Crew: $3,176,361.50 / $3,537,826.77 (-$68,646.00 / -$149,680.74, down 3 places)
18. Colorado Rapids: $3,007,541.00 / $3,514,300.49 (-$29,517.00 / +$25,399.67, down 1 places)
19. Chivas USA: $3,077,432.04 / $3,306,115.37 (-$17,809.00 / $13,441.00, no change)
Or, the top 25 players currently playing in the league, plus Kaká.
1. M Kaka, Orlando City: $6,660,000.00 / $7,167,500.00
2. F Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders: $4,913,004.00 / $6,695,188.75
3. M Michael Bradley, Toronto FC: $6,000,000.00 / $6,500,000.00
4. F Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC: $6,000,000.00 / $6,180,000.00
5. F Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy: $4,250,000.00 / $4,583,333.33
6. F Robbie Keane, Los Angeles Galaxy: $4,500,000.00 / $4,500,000.00
7. F Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls: $3,750,000.00 / $4,350,000.00
8. M Tim Cahill, New York Red Bulls: $3,500,000.00 / $3,625,000.00
9. M Jermaine Jones, New England Revolution: $3,000,000.00 / $3,252,500.00
10. F Marco Di Vaio, Montréal Impact: $1,500,000.00 / $2,600,000.00
11. F Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders: $1,620,000.00 / $1,753,333.33
12. M Pedro Morales, Vancouver Whitecaps: $1,190,000.00 / $1,410,900.00
13. D Omar González, Los Angeles Galaxy: $1,000,000.00 / $1,250,000.00
14. F Gilberto, Toronto FC: $1,145,000.00 / $1,205,000.00
15. D Liam Ridgewell, Portland Timbers: $1,200,000.00 / $1,200,000.00
16. D DaMarcus Beasley, Houston Dynamo: $750,000.00 / $779,166.67
17. M Federico Higuaín, Columbus Crew: $580,000.00 / $744,000.00
18. M Maurice Edu. Philadelphia Union: $650,000.00 / $650,000.00
19. F Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes: $600,000.00 / $650,000.00
20. F Andrés Escobar, FC Dallas: $625,000.00 / $647,000.00
21. D Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City: $600,000.00 / $633,250.00
22. M Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City: $600,000.00 / $631,388.89
23. F Eddie Johnson, D.C. United: $505,000.00 / $613,333.33
24. F Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers: $580,800.00 / $593,300.00
25. M Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers: $500,000.00 / $500,000.00
26. D José Gonçalves, New England Revolution: $450,000.00 / $479,375.00
Gonçalves is the highest-paid player in MLS who is not a Designated Player. Four players earn more money than the DP threshold of $387,500 but are not DPs: Gonçalves, Nigel Reo-Coker (Chivas USA), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire) and Brad Davis (Houston).
Major League Soccer maintans an up-to-date list of all DPs in the league here.
Here are some items of note from across Major League Soccer. Changes from last April's salary release are noted in parentheses.
Total salary expenditure: $116,692,405.08 / $129,531,839.47 (+$13,318,713.92 / +$14,185,501.96)
Total number of players: 572 (+17)
Mean (average) salary: $204,007.70 / $226,454.26 (+$17,748.80 / +$18,623.02)
Median (middle) salary: $80,000.00 / $92,000.00 (+$0.00 / +$4,493.66)
Mode (most common) salary: $48,500.00 / $48,500.00 (+$2,000.00 / -$325.00)
Highest salary: Kaká, $6,660,000.00 / $7,167,500.00 (+$1,746,996.00 / +$472,311.25)
Lowest salary: 20 players, $36,500.00 / $36,500.00 (-6 players, +$0.00 / +$0.00)
Finally, as always, here are a few spare thoughts for players who often go unrecognized.
League-wide goalkeeper pool
Daniel Withrow: $36,504.00 / $36,504.00
As was the case in April, Withrow is the only player currently in the pool.
GK Tim Melia: $70,000.00 / $70,000.00
D Carlos Borja: $52,313.00 / $52,313.00
M Josh Gardner: $70,000.00 / $70,000.00
Melia played for Chivas USA this year and was waived in July. Borja was on Chivas USA's squad early in the season but did not play. Gardner was with Sporting Kansas City early in the year and started the team's season opener, but did not see any action in league games after that.
New York City FC players
So far, New York has officially (emphasis on "officially") committed $458,504.00 in base salary and $464,170.67 in guaranteed compensation to a total of five players:
GK Josh Saunders: $48,504.00 / $48,504.00
D Kwame Watson-Siriboe: $55,000.00 / $56,666.67
M Jeb Brovsky: $115,000.00 / $119,000.00
M Andrew Jacobson: $180,000.00 / $180,000.00
F David Villa: $60,000.00 / $60,000.00
Orlando City players
So far, Orlando has officially committed $6,855,000.00 in base salary and $7,419,337.50 in guaranteed compensation to a total of five players: