Bargains among the MLS salary numbers, released today

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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.

West Ham sign Arnautovic from Stoke for club-record fee

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LONDON (AP) West Ham signed attacking midfielder Marko Arnautovic from Stoke for a club-record fee on Saturday.

The fee wasn’t disclosed, but British media said West Ham paid an initial 20 million pounds ($26 million) that could rise to 25 million pounds ($32.5 million) for the 28-year-old Austria international.

Arnautovic is West Ham’s third signing of the summer, after right back Pablo Zabaleta on a free transfer and goalkeeper Joe Hart on loan.

“We have brought in three players with vast Premier League experience this summer,” West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan said, “and that was one of our key targets.”

Arnautovic, who has 62 caps for his country, joined Stoke from Werder Bremen in 2013. He scored 26 goals in 145 appearances for Stoke.

MLS Snapshot: 10-man NYCFC too much for McCarty-less Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less): New York City FC spent 78 minutes at a man disadvantage, fewer than 72 hours after drawing MLS-leading Toronto FC midweek, against the second-place Chicago Fire on Saturday. It the end, this week shall go down as the back-to-back which put to bed any lingering questions regarding NYCFC’s MLS Cup-contending credentials. Four points from two games against the league’s top-two teams — Patrick Vieira’s side (37 points) now sits a single point back of Chicago, two back of Toronto. As is typically the case, David Villa’s fingerprints were all over Saturday’s win at Yankee Stadium, as the reigning MVP scored the opening goal (in typically stunning fashion) before so nearly setting up one or two more as the back-and-forth, frantic second half wore on. Frederic Brilliant scored what turned out to be the winner just three minutes later, as David Accam canceled out Villa’s opener to make it three goals scored in seven minutes.

[ MORE: Clint Dempsey goes for USMNT goals record, back home ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Kappelhof slides through Herrera, no penalty given — Maybe VAR will be good?

12′ — Herrera sees yellow again, and he’s gone — Herrera’s first yellow was questionable, but there’s no doubt about the second, just four minutes later.

47′ — Villa smashes on the full volley for 1-0 — This is approximately the 197th time I’ve written the phrase, “David Villa, take a bow,” since Spain’s all-time leading scorer came to MLS.

50′ — Brilliant heads home in traffic for 2-0 — It takes guts to put your head into a sea of flying feet the Brilliant does here. Fortunately, his face is intact and the Frenchman was duly rewarded.

54′ — Accam hits and prays, makes it 2-1 — Don’t think; just hit it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Villa (47′), Brilliant (50′), Accam (54′)

Pele’s son’s in jail on drug trafficking charges in Brazil

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SAO PAULO (AP) A son of Brazilian soccer legend Pele has returned to jail to serve a sentence of more than 12 years on drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

A Brazilian court Friday ordered Edson Cholbi do Nascimento returned to jail after turning down his appeal.

He is a former goalkeeper with Pele’s old club Santos and was first arrested in 2005, though he remained free pending the outcome of his appeals.

In 2014 a court convicted him to 33 years in prison. That sentence was later reduced to 12 years, 10 months.

In late February he turned himself in to complete his sentence and in early March a court ordered his release and allowed him to remain free while fighting the sentence.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

Texas-born Dempsey at home 1 goal from record, 1 win from Final

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Clint Dempsey is back in his home state of Texas, one goal away from a national scoring record for the United States team that is one win from playing in another CONCACAF Gold Cup final.

The Americans play a semifinal game Saturday night against Costa Rica in a stadium synonymous with American football – the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, the Cotton Bowl and where the first College Football Playoff championship game was played three seasons ago.

That is only about 180 miles from Dempsey’s hometown of Nacogdoches.

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“It’s always great to be home and play in front of family and friends, especially for a big game,” Dempsey said Friday. “I have a lot of great memories of playing in Dallas as a kid, and I’m proud to represent Nacogdoches. Being from there made me who I am today.”

Dempsey, one goal from matching Landon Donovan’s American record of 57 national team goals, wasn’t part of soccer’s only Gold Cup games at the $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium.

In a 2013 semifinal game there when the Americans were on the way to their fifth Gold Cup championship, they beat Honduras 3-1. Donovan scored twice in that game – his 55th and 56th goals for the national team – and assisted on the other goal. About two months later, Donovan scored his final goal in a World Cup qualifier win over Mexico.

Within a week after Costa Rica beat the U.S. team 4-0 in World Cup qualifying last November, Jurgen Klinsmann was out as the U.S. coach and Bruce Arena was rehired to the position he had been fired from a decade earlier.

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Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez said Friday that Arena has seemingly had a positive impact on the U.S. team.

“They look more relaxed in terms of what they’re doing on the field,” Ramirez said through an interpreter.

This U.S. roster for the Gold Cup knockout rounds also is much different than the one that played in Costa Rica eight months ago – not just the change at coach. Only five players from that game that are set for this semifinal game – Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi.

“That’s in the past,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think about that game. … This is just another game. It’s another opportunity for us to see what we’re made out of.”

Altidore, Dempsey, Bradley, Darlington Nagbe, and goalkeeper Tim Howard were all added to the lineup before a 2-0 win over El Salvador in the quarterfinal on Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

Dempsey set up Eric Lichaj‘s goal in extra time before halftime to make it 2-0 against El Salvador. Dempsey also fed Gyasi Zardes for a breakaway, though that apparent goal didn’t count after he was ruled offside.

That game was Dempsey’s 135th appearance for the national team, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Landon Donovan (157) on the U.S. list.

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Dempsey isn’t the only player with Texas ties with the U.S. team. Three players from FC Dallas, the MLS team that plays its home games about 40 miles away from the big stadium in Frisco, are on the roster: Kellyn Acosta, Matt Hedges and Jesse Gonzalez.

Acosta, the homegrown midfielder who turns 22 next week, was recently named to the MLS All-Star team. He was born in nearby Plano, Texas, and signed by FC Dallas five years ago.

“It’s definitely a proud moment, to get to represent my community, play before my friends and family,” Acosta said. “To be back in my hometown, I’m definitely excited about it.”

Notes: Costa Rica is trying to get to its first Gold Cup final since 2002, when it lost 2-0 to the Americans. “Obviously, we want to look for that reward, that happiness, and go after that,” Ramirez said. “We have a difficult team in front of us.” … The United States’ nine goals are the most in this Gold Cup, while Costa Rica has allowed only one in its four games.