MLS player salaries: analysis, charts, and tables

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The Major League Soccer Players Union released updated salary information up to Aug. 1 on Friday. Included in the new numbers was the revelation of Clint Dempsey’s salary, which makes him the highest paid player in the league, surpassing Robbie Keane.

Dempsey will make over $4.9 million base salary, or $5.04 million guaranteed, per year on his new deal. Keane is just behind him at exactly $4 million base and $4.33 million guaranteed. Other top earners include Thierry Henry ($3.75 million base/$4.35 million guaranteed), Tim Cahill ($3.5 million/$3.63 million) and Landon Donovan ($2.5 million each).

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the league-wide numbers and raw data. But first, the usual MLS salary disclaimers:

• Not every player is listed in the document for various reasons, such as new Colorado Rapids Designated Player Gabriel Torres, and players on loan, such as Fredy Montero, are still listed.

• The information can never be 100 percent accurate or up to date because players constantly sign new contracts — after the salary numbers come out, some players are surely on the phone to their agents very quickly.

• Also, the numbers don’t include bonuses, sponsorship deals or any other miscellaneous contract line items. For example, when a portion of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s profits were making their way into David Beckham’s bank account, those were not declared in his MLSPU-released salary.

• When it comes to Designated Players, the MLS roster rules are a bit murky and contrived. For example, some guys in the official dossier make more than the league maximum $368,750 but are not Designated Players, and the reverse applies as well. In some cases, allocation money has been used to buy down the contract, but transfer fees and other acquisition costs can bring the total cost up.

So let’s get to it.

Basic information

source:  A total of 568 players were listed in the MLSPU document. Pool goalkeepers Brad Stuver and Doug Herrick, as well as four released players, are not listed with a specific team but are on the list anyway.

The average salary this year is $148,693.26, and the median number is $75,000. The mean is up $6,790.13 from May 1, but without Clint Dempsey’s recent deal, it would be down to $140,290.60 ($1,612.53 less than the May numbers).

Among non-Designated Players, Dwayne De Rosario continues to hold top spot, making a $600,000 base salary. In fact, he makes a higher base salary than 17 DPs, meaning just 11 of them make more. Fabian Castillo of FC Dallas is the lowest paid DP, making just $60,000.

In terms of average and median salaries through the years, the mean is down $7,430.92 from last season, although the median is up $1,240. The biggest jump in the median came between 2011 and 2012, after a $2,500 decline the previous year.

The current collective bargaining agreement between MLS and the MLSPU expires after next season, in December 2014.

source:  Positional breakdown

Nothing new here: forwards make the big bucks, goalkeepers make the opposite and everybody else is in between. It’s a worldwide trend. (Note: players listed at multiple positions are calculated as being part of both groups; that’s how Chris Wondolowski is the No. 4 highest paid midfielder in the league.)

source:  Standings

Looking at how each team’s money works for them is one of the more fun exercises from this giant list of numbers. Four of the mid- to low-table teams in terms of total salary are in the top five of the Supporters’ Shield race.

The Colorado Rapids, who have the second lowest total salary in the league, are getting great value for their money. Of course, Gabriel Torres’ numbers are not in the calculations, but the team got to where it is without its first-ever DP.

source:  Unlike years past, where two teams paid far-and-away the highest total salaries in the league, a third team has joined the fray. With Seattle Sounders FC’s commitment to Clint Dempsey, it jumps closer to the New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy in terms of total numbers.

While the Galaxy had a modest 7 percent increase in total salary since May, and the Red Bulls actually saw a small decrease, Seattle is now paying an astounding 70 percent more to its players than it was just three months ago.

source:  The Sounders were No. 3 in the salary table in May, too, but owners Joe Roth, Drew Carey, Adrian Hanauer and Paul Allen are starting to throw more money around in an attempt to bring an MLS Cup to the largest fan base in the league.

Daly collapses during match, treated for heat illness

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly collapsed during the final minute of a National Women’s Soccer League match against the Seattle Reign as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The 25-year-old Daly was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, where the team said she was being treated for heat illness.

The temperature at BBVA Compass Stadium was 92 degrees at the 3 p.m. kickoff. The Reign won 2-0.

[ MORE: Perisic talking with Man Utd? ]

The NWSL issued a statement that said the league had worked with the Dash before the season to schedule any afternoon games early in the year to help avoid heat issues. The teams took a hydration break late in the match.

“We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” the statement said.

Reign coach Laura Harvey posted to Twitter: “Proud of the team today. Some of the hottest conditions I’ve seen. Road games are tough but that was crazy.”

MLS roundup: Outrageous dive, posts doom ‘Caps; Ramirez stays red hot

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Six matches are in the books on a busy Saturday in Major League Soccer, and five of them finished 1-0.

How they got there? Much different stories. With the Cali Clasico still to play, let’s dig into the five that followed Seattle 1-0 Portland.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]


Vancouver Whitecaps 0-1 DC United

It’s especially difficult to win on the road in Major League Soccer, unless the hosts fritter away four good chances off the woodwork — including a Cristian Techera PK — and give away a spot kick of their own. Lamar Neagle converted the 61st offering after a sinister dive from Jose Guillermo Ortiz. He was taken off soon after, and is probably going to miss sometime when the DisCo is done with him. Outrageous.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New England Revolution

Not one, not two, nor three, but four New England players saw a low cross slide by them for Daniel Royer to finish as New York came from behind to take all three points at Red Bull Arena. Cody Cropper committed a gaffe that allowed Bradley Wright-Phillips to equalize after a Lee Nguyen PK had put the Revs ahead early.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 Sporting KC

Homegrown defender and University of Denver product Kortne Ford has his first MLS goal, as the Rapids surprised the Western Conference leaders on Saturday. SKC outshot Colorado by nearly 20 attempts (Shoulder shrug emoji).

Minnesota United 1-0 Orlando City

There were questions as to whether NASL superstar Christian Ramirez could translate his game to Major League Soccer.

Yes. The answer is yes.

Ramirez has eight goals in 13 MLS matches, and should be hearing his name from a certain Bruce Arena around Gold Cup time. Those USMNT dreams of last season should come true.

Bobby Shuttleworth made six saves for his third shutout of the season. All have come at home.

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Joao Plata keeps shooting, and the tiny Ecuadorian menace keeps scoring, too. His 36th minute goal was enough for the hosts at Rio Tinto.

Raiola: Zlatan to “100 percent” stay in Europe for two seasons

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 and coming off major knee surgery, but that isn’t stopping suitors from lining up across Europe.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]

Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, says that MLS is not an option for the Swede over the next two seasons. From Sky Sports:

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan. He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”

It would make sense for Ibrahimovic to stay around Manchester United, where he is admired by Jose Mourinho and coming off a season that showed he’s still capable of contributing at a high level.

But he remains beloved in Italy, and would be effective for most clubs in the Top 5 leagues should he return at even 75 percent of the Zlatan we’ve seen regularly.

Report: Manchester United, Inter Milan keen on Perisic deal

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Manchester United wants Ivan Perisic, and both the player and his current club are all about it.

Perisic, 28, is ready to leave Inter Milan, and the Serie A mainstays are happy to accept $46 million for his services according to Sky Sports.

[ MORE: No China for Costa ]

Primarily a left winger, Perisic moved to Inter from Wolfsburg at the start of the 2015-16 season. He scored 10 goals and added nine assists in Serie A play this season, and has kept up his production pace since moving from the Bundesliga to Italy.

United needs stars and depth for its Champions League campaign, and Perisic would buttress an attack with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst others. He was a difference maker for Croatia at EURO 2016, and can do the same at Old Trafford.