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MLS player salaries: analysis, charts, and tables


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.

Defoe: Sunderland’s Duncan Watmore reminds me of Gareth Bale

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on November 23, 2015 in London, England.
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Duncan Watmore is highly regarded at Sunderland, as the 21-year-old was rewarded with a new four-year contract with the club earlier this week.

While the club has high hopes for the young winger, his teammates are taking notice as well.

[ MORE: Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

Watmore’s teammate Jermain Defoe, a seasoned veteran who knows all about succeeding in the Premier League, praised the 21-year-old’s play, comparing him to one of his former teammates at Tottenham, Gareth Bale.

In a funny way he reminds me of Gareth [Bale]. When he came on the scene at Tottenham, he used to just get the ball and glide.

He’s such a nice boy, I don’t think he’s bothered about signing new contracts and stuff, all he wants to do is play football and do well for the club.

If he can go on to do what Gareth has done then he’ll be fantastic. He’s the future of this club.

That’s quite the comparison, as Watmore has only made six Premier League appearances in his young career. Bale was twice named the Premier League Player of the Year before being sold to Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee in 2013.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

While it’s a bit too soon to be calling Watmore the next Gareth Bale, there’s no denying he could be a huge talent for Sunderland. After coming on as a substitute in the Black Cats’ win over Crystal Palace on Monday, Watmore showed his speed and willingness to run at defenders, something the club is in desperate need of. He made his debut for the England U21 side this fall, which shows his form has impressed many outside of just the North East.

After starting his career in the Manchester United youth setup, Watmore was released and played with non-league side Altrincham before signing with Sunderland in 2013. He scored 11 goals in 18 appearances last year with the U21 side, being named the Under 21 Premier League Player of the Season.

Five Premier League players make UEFA Team of the Year shortlist

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with his team mate Sergio Aguero (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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UEFA has released the 40-man shortlist for the 2015 Team of the Year, with five Premier League players making the cut.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is on the list after being named the Premier League Player of the Year last season, as is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.

Manchester City accounts for the other three players, as Joe Hart, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have been selected. However, De Bruyne makes the list mainly based off his play for Wolfsburg last season.

Three teams have more players selected than the entire Premier League combined. Barcelona leads the list with eight players, while Bayern Munich and Juventus each have six.

[ MORE: FIFA Ethics Committee seeks lifetime ban for Sepp Blatter ]

Cristiano Ronaldo already has the most appearances on the final list with nine, and is looking to make his ninth consecutive Team of the Year. No other player has been selected more than six times since the beginning of the award, which was started in 2001.

Below is the complete 40-man shortlist.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Denys Boyko (Dnipro).

Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), David Luiz (Paris St-Germain), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Thiago Silva (Paris St-Germain), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris St-Germain), Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen).

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St-Germain), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).

New York Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch voted MLS Coach of the Year

Jesse Marsch
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NEW YORK (AP) — The Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch has been voted Major League Soccer’s Coach of the Year, the first to earn the honor in the two-decade history of the New York team.

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The Red Bulls went a league-best 18-10-6 in Marsch’s first season after replacing Mike Petke, winning 14 of their last 20 games with one tie. They trail Columbus 2-0 going into Sunday’s second leg of their Eastern Conference final.

MLS said Tuesday that from combined team, media and player votes, Marsch received a weighted total of 152 out of a possible 300.

Dallas’ Oscar Pareja was second with 91 and Vancouver’s Carl Robinson third with 24.

How can Chelsea qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

HAIFA, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 24: Willian of Chelsea celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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With one match left in UEFA Champions League group play, Chelsea control their own destiny.

After beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv 4-0, the Blues sit tied with FC Porto on ten points at the top of Group G.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

However, with Dynamo Kyiv earning a big win over Porto on Tuesday, Chelsea must wait until the final matchday to qualify for the knockout round, as there is a possibility of a three-way tie for the top spot in Group G.

With Chelsea hosting Porto on December 9, here are the scenarios for Jose Mourinho’s men to assure advancement.

  • A win over Porto will clinch Chelsea the top spot and a place in the last 16.
  • A draw against Porto will see Chelsea advance.
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo win: Chelsea win group, Dynamo finish second
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo draw or loss: Porto win group, Chelsea finish second
  • A loss to Porto and a Dynamo Kyiv draw/loss to Maccabi Tel-Aviv will see Chelsea finish second in the group and advance to the last 16.
  • The Blues have secured at least a berth in the Europa League, regardless of the result in their final match.

Simply put, get a point at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea advance.