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.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.