Lee Nguyen, Blake Brettschneider, Chris Tierney

Bargains among the MLS salary numbers, released today


MLS Salaries were announced Monday, courtesy of the MLS Players Association.

It’s worth noting that the salaries listed are essentially for reporting purposes, skewed by some technical mumbo-jumbo and not entirely accurate in terms of what they players actually earn. And there are other considerations where “value” is concerned, as in how much salary is being paid by a former team, or scheduled increases ahead, etc.

Still, the numbers represent fairly solid reference points.

So let’s get started by looking at 20 real bargains around MLS (plus a pair of bonus, Super Bargains!):

The Super Bargains!

  • Lee Nguyen, New England Revolution, $80,000 guaranteed: The Revs attack is nothing special, but the winger who loves to come inside to create is still the top man around Gillette in terms of breaking down defenses. Nguyen (pictured) would show even better with a higher quality front line in front of him.
  • Victor Bernardez, San Jose, $100,000:  On many days he is the league’s top center back. “Top center backs” are usually in the $200-$300 range. So, yes, he’s a plum by any measure – but especially at this price.

The Plain ol’ bargain bin Bargains

(price noted is 2013 “guaranteed” compensation; listed in alphabetical order by club):

  • Austin Berry, Chicago Fire, $78,000
  • Michel, FC Dallas, $81,000

Not a name that many know much about, but the first-year MLS man’s ability to hold the midfield helped has enormously for the current Western Conference leaders.

  • Matt Hedges, FC Dallas, $64,500
  • Andrew Driver, Houston Dynamo, $95,000
  • Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City, $180,000

That number may look fair for a center back, but it’s getting into bargain territory, at very least, for an elite CB who just elbowed his way into the U.S. national team rotation.

  • Claudio Bieler, Sporting Kansas City, $200,000

He’s sharing the league lead in scoring after 10 weeks, so that stands out as a bargain price for a veteran, quality striker.

  • Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City, $173,000
  • Oriol Rosell, Sporting Kansas City, $118,000

An underrated element of the current Eastern Conference co-leaders. Once you consider that both Benny Feilhaber and Bobby Convey (different roles, admittedly) both earn quite a bit more, it’s easier to see how the Spanish veteran, so disciplined, composed and clean in the holding midfield role, is well worth that small patch of cash.

  • Omar Gonzalez, L.A. Galaxy, $282,000

I will go to my grave insisting he was the most important element – indeed, the one absolutely indispensable element – in last year’s championship defense. He was definitely the MVP of MLS Cup 2013. None of that happened without Gonzalez, so even at that relatively high number, he’s a steal.

  • Patrice Bernier, Montreal Impact, $162,000

For the league’s best holding midfielder? C’mon! He’s probably the most important man in Impact colors, and the center of the park around Stade Saputo never looks quite the same without him.

  • Jeb Brovsky, Montreal Impact, $84,000
  • Jose Goncalves, New England Revolution, $104,000
  • Fabian Espindola, New York Red Bulls, $150,000
  • Keon Daniel, Philadelphia Union, $80,000
  • Sebastien Velasquez, Real Salt Lake, $46,000

Velasquez, 22, is at that number due to his age. Keep at it, young man, and you won’t be making those apprentice wages much longer.

  • Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders, $210,000
  • DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle Sounders, $53,000

Anyone else see the Sounders rookie, now solidly in place as the starting right back at CenturyLink Field, getting a contract re-do this year?

  • Rafael Baca, San Jose Earthquakes, $49,000
  • Steven Beitashour, San Jose Earthquakes, $49,000
  • Joe Bendik, Toronto FC, $46,000

Quality goalkeepers can be had for less than 100K in MLS; still this price is pretty ridiculous for the man who is keeping Stefan Frei on the bench.

MLS Cup Playoffs: NY Red Bulls 1-0 (1-2 agg.) Columbus Crew SC

Tony Tchani, Michael Parkhurst
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The game in 100 words (or less): Columbus Crew SC are headed to their second MLS Cup in club history (champions – 2008) after defeating the New York Red Bulls, 2-0 on aggregate, in the Western Conference finals (0-0 draw in an extremely chippy second leg on Sunday). Justin Meram and Kei Kamara scored the two-leg tie’s only goals — eight seconds and 85 minutes into the first leg, respectively — and Crew SC confidently managed the second leg by defending with numbers and wisely picking their spots to break out on the counter. RBNY held nearly 60 percent of possession in the second leg, but could muster just six shots on target over the 90 minutes. Crew SC will host the Portland Timbers in MLS Cup 2015 next Sunday (4 p.m. ET) at MAPFRE Stadium.

[ MORE: Previewing the MLS weekend ]

Three moments that mattered

38′ — Robles at full stretch to deny Kamara — What’s better: the first touch, second touch, turn and shot by Kei Kamara; or, the sprawled-out save by Luis Robles to swat away a ball clearly headed for the bottom corner? Quality on quality.

90+3′ — Abang heads home to make it nervy late — Anatole Abange rose above the crowd and headed home a recycled ball inside the penalty area after a Sal Zizzo cross was headed high into the air late into stoppage time.

90+5′ — Madness in the penalty area, RBNY hit the post — It was absolute scenes inside the Crew SC penalty area. Ball after ball pumped into the box, headed high into the air and briefly cleared. The final chance of the game fell to Bradley Wright-Phillips, who headed the ball toward the far post with Steve Clark rushing out quickly, only to see his slow dribbler bounce off the front side of the post and back into the field of play.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Abang (90+3′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: FC Dallas 2-2 (3-5 agg.) Portland Timbers

Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers FC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Portland Timbers are headed to their first MLS Cup in club history after defeating FC Dallas, 5-3 on aggregate, in the Western Conference finals (2-2 draw in the second leg). Fanendo Adi scored in Sunday’s second leg, giving Caleb Porter’s side a 4-1 aggregate lead before Ryan Hollingshead and Blas Perez scored inside the last 25 minutes to give Oscar Pareja’s bunch a late lifeline, but Lucas Melano’s spectacular tap-in sealed the Timbers’ trip to MLS Cup. The third seed heading into the playoffs, Portland bounced Sporting Kansas City in an epic penalty shootout in the knockout round and outlasted the Vancouver Whitecaps in the conference semifinals before knocking off the West’s top seed over two legs to advance to MLS Cup 2015. No matter who advances from the East finals later on Sunday, Portland will play away in MLS Cup, to either the New York Red Bulls or Columbus Crew SC.

[ MORE: Previewing the MLS weekend ]

Three Four moments that mattered

54′ — Adi fires past Gonzalez to make if 4-1 — Oscar Pareja elected to go with Walker Zimmerman at center back on Sunday, dropping regular starter Zach Loyd to the bench. On the game’s opening goal, it was Zimmerman who wound up on the ground as Adi received the ball, turned and fired a massive away goal past Jesse Gonzalez.

68′ — Diaz’s magical ball curled home by Hollingshead — Mauro Diaz is a wonderful magician capable of playing the kill through ball from anywhere on the field — this we’ve known for quite some time. His chipped through ball to set up Hollingshead’s goal was extraordinarily brilliant, even for him.

73′ — Perez heads home the free kick to pull within one — Would you be surprised to hear that it was Diaz who set up FCD’s second goal? His free kick was Perez-finding missile and found the head of the Panamanian striker at the top of the six-yard box, where 34-year-old headed home with ease.

90+5′ — Melano rounds Gonzalez, seals MLS Cup berth — Poor Jesse Gonzalez. Absolutely schooled and posterized by Lucas Melano. What a way to sew up a place in the championship final.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Mauro Diaz

Goalscorers: Adi (54′), Hollingshead (68′), Perez (73′), Melano (90+5′)

La Liga & Serie A: Real Madrid bounce back; Juventus on the charge

Gareth Bale, Real Madrid CF
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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights:

Eibar 0-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid bounced back from back-to-back La Liga defeats with a 2-0 victory away to Eibar on Sunday. Gareth Bale (below video) and Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty kick) provided the goals to keep Rafa Benitez‘s bunch (27 points) third in the league, two points behind Atletico Madrid and six behind leaders Barcelona.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Getafe 2-0 Villarreal
Rayo Vallecano 0-3 Athletic Bilbao
Sevilla 1-0 Valencia

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup ]

Roma 0-2 Atalanta

Losing at home to sides currently in a relegation battle — rarely a good idea, especially if you fancy yourselves title challengers, but that didn’t stop Roma from doing just that on Sunday. Alejandro Gomez and German Denis scored the goals to knock off a 10-man Roma side (Maicon – 81st minute) and keep Rudi Garcia’s bunch (27 points) from gaining ground on any of the three teams currently ahead of them — Inter Milan, Napoli and Fiorentina — all of whom play on Monday.

AC Milan 4-1 Sampdoria

M’Baye Niang scored twice, while Giacomo Bonaventura and Luiz Adriano (below video) added single tallies for AC Milan (23 points) to keep pace with the top-five pack in Serie A. After 14 rounds of games, the Rossoneri sit sixth, a point outside fifth (UEFA Europa League) and five points out of third (UEFA Champions League).

Palermo 0-3 Juventus

Don’t look now, but here come Juventus. Sunday’s 3-0 triumph over Palermo makes it four straight wins in the league for Massimiliano Allegri’s side — a run that pushes them all the way up to fifth in the league (24 points), just six points off the pace of leaders Inter, who play on Monday. Mario Mandzukic (below video), Stefano Sturaro and Simone Zaza scored the goals for the world’s most frightening fifth-place team.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Torino 2-0 Bologna
Chievo 2-3 Udinese
Frosinone 3-2 Hellas Verona
Genoa 1-2 Carpi
Empoli 1-0 Lazio

Monday’s Serie A schedule

Sassuolo vs. Fiorentina (1 p.m. ET)
Napoli vs. Inter Milan (3 p.m. ET)

Arsenal’s injury crisis — add Sanchez, Cazorla, Koscielny to the list

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC
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From title challengers to just hoping to hold on to a top-four place while Arsene Wenger is forced to play reserves and academy players because half of his star players are currently out injured — the annual story of Arsenal.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Oct. 27, when Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both went down with injuries in the same game, marked the unofficial start of Arsenal’s 2015-16 injury crisis, but things didn’t really get going full bore until the last seven days, when five more players — four of them full-time starters — picked up injuries that will keep them out of action for anywhere between three weeks and three months.

Added to the list last weekend: Francis Coquelin (knee – three months minimum), Mikel Arteta (calf – three weeks)

Added to the list on Sunday: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring – MORE DETAILS), Santi Cazorla (knee), Laurent Koscielny (hip)

Following Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City, Wenger said Koscielny “could not walk” due to the hip spasm that forced him out of the game after just 11 minutes. He also divulged that Cazorla, who could not be subbed off because Wenger had already used all three subs late on, played the second half “on one leg.” Sanchez came into Sunday injured after picking up a hamstring injury in Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Sunday’s PL roundup — Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs all draw ]

Arsenal fans were up in arms during the summer transfer window — let’s be honest, the following is true of every transfer window the last five years — crying out, “We must buy, we must buy.” Have a look at Arsenal’s complete injury list at the moment, and try to say, “They didn’t need to buy in the summer.”

In chronological order: Danny Welbeck (knee – early 2016 return), Tomas Rosicky (knee – Christmas time return), Jack Wilshere (leg – Christmas time return), Theo Walcott (calf – December return), Mikel Arteta (calf – three weeks), Francis Coquelin (knee – three months minimum), Laurent Koscielny (hip – to be assessed), Alexis Sanchez (hamstring – to be assessed), Santi Cazorla (knee – to be assessed)