Examining the top 10 earners in MLS

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Well, this happens every single season. But it always creates plenty of hype, discussion and debate.

Major League Soccer usually releases players salary figures a few months into the season, fans, pundits and just about everyone has a say on who is a bargain, who is overpaid and what clubs are doing fantastically well within their salary cap.

MLS announced the 2013 salaries yesterday, with plenty of surprises on hand.

Just one player eligible to play for the USMNT is among the top ten earners, Landon Donovan, and a whole host of nationalities can be found, including a Frenchman, Irishman, Australian, Italian, Dutchman, Scotsman and two Colombians.

So, without further adieu, let’s crack on and find out who are the top ten earners in MLS (total salary), and examine whether or not they’re worth it. It was good enough for the Roman amphitheater’s back in the day, so we are going to use a simple “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down” method to judge MLS’ superstars.

1. Thierry Henry – $4,350,000

New York’s talisman has had a few injury problems over the past year, but when he is fit and fired up not many defenders can get near him. Henry looks to have embraced Mike Petke in charge and is helping the Red Bulls fight back after a poor start to the season.

Thumbs Up

2. Robbie Keane – $4,333,333.33

The Irishman has also had his injury struggles but being handed the LA Galaxy captaincy proves his worth to the side. He was on fire in the second-half of last season, acting as the catalyst for LA’s MLS Cup success. Keane is without doubt the best finisher in the league. Totally worth the big bucks.

Thumbs Up

3. Tim Cahill – $3,620,000

A month ago, this would have been a big thumbs down. But Cahill has turned his season around. Some may argue he isn’t doing much different. And you would be right. The Aussie has played the same all season, but recently he has found the back of the net with regularity. Clutch goals are worth their weight in gold.

Thumbs Up

(MORE: Bargains around the league, based on the numbers)

4. Landon Donovan – $2,500,000

A lot of deliberation about this one. Yes he is one of greatest US players of all time and has been LA’s main man for several season now. But Donovan’s winter sojourn has cast some shadows on his importance to the team. And he has played well in spells since coming back but also missed two PKs and looked rusty at times.

Thumbs Up

5. Marco Di Vaio – $1,937,508

The Italian is incredible, scoring several terrific goals so far and showing no signs of stopping. He accepts he won’t start every game for Montreal, but he slots perfectly into the squad rotation system. Di Vaio’s experience and natural talent to finish should lead the Impact deep into the postseason.

Thumbs Up

6. Obafemi Martins – $1,725,000

Injury-hit and taking his time to adjust to MLS, Martins has shown pockets of brilliance so far for Seattle. Once he gets into his groove, much like Keane in the second half of last season, expect the Nigerian to rip it up.

Thumbs Up

7. Danny Koevermans – $1,663,323.33

Harsh to give him the thumbs down, but Koevermans has just been so injury prone. When he does play, the goals are always flowing. But for Toronto’s new look side, a more mobile striker is needed to chase long balls. Koevermans just doesn’t fit the bill.

Thumbs Down

8. Kenny Miller – $1,132,492

The Scot endured a tough first season in MLS last year. And things haven’t got much better this season. Despite having the captain’s armband for some games, Miller has not delivered the goals Martin Rennie would have hoped for. You can never fault his effort but he should be grabbing goals for Vancouver.

Thumbs Down

9. Fredy Montero – $856,000

Strange one this, as Montero is currently on loan with Millonarios back in Colombia. But in the salaries released his is right up there still. Obviously the Sounders are getting a fee for his services while he is on loan. He is worth big money in MLS, no doubt. But he is too hot and cold for me.

Thumbs Down

10. David Ferreira – $730,000

Great to see the diminutive Dallas attacker back fit and healthy. The 33-year-old is still the heartbeat of FCD and if they can keep their good early season form going, Ferreira’s form is key. The number of chances he creates is incredible and a few more goals from the Colombian could help Dallas go far.

Thumbs Up

Asian Cup Wrap: South Korea clinches top spot in group, and more

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Heung-Min Son started, recorded an assist and went 89 minutes three days after arriving in the United Arab Emirates as South Korea finished off the group stage with a resounding, 2-0 win over China.

With the win, South Korea’s third straight, the Taegeuk Warriors advance to the knockout stages as one of the top seeds, where they’ll face a third-place team in their next match. Ui-Jo Huang scored on a penalty kick in the 14th minute to give South Korea the lead, and six minutes into the second half, Min-Jae Kim powered home a header off a Son corner kick to put the game away.

[READ: Goal-scoring Martinez re-signs with Atlanta United]

China won’t be too upset about the defeat. They finished in second place in Group C, and will open the knockout round against Thailand.

Elsewhere in Asian Cup action, Vitalij Lux scored a hat-trick as Kyrgyzstan beat the Philippines, possibly earning a spot in the knockout stages. It’s Kyrgyzstan‘s first appearance at the Asian Cup.

In Group D action, leaders Iraq and Iran, both enemies politically, perhaps finished with an appropriate scoreline. The two sides settled for a scoreless draw, seeing both advance to the next round. Vietnam, meanwhile, picked up its first win in a 2-0 victory over Yemen, potentially keeping its Asian Cup hopes alive for a few more days.

FOLLOW LIVE: Southampton v. Derby County

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Southampton and Derby County chase the final spot in the fourth round proper of the 2018-19 FA Cup with a replay at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

[ FOLLOW: FA Cup scoreboard ]

The clubs drew 2-2 at Pride Park on Jan. 5, with a Nathan Redmond 2-0 lead going to waste for the Premier League visitors.

The victor gets a trip to the Crown Ground to face League One’s Accrington Stanley on Jan. 26.

Full fourth round fixture list

Jan. 25
Arsenal v. Manchester United

Jan. 26
Accrington Stanley v. Derby County or Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. West Bromwich Albion
Bristol City v. Bolton
Doncaster Rovers v. Oldham Athletic
Man City v. Burnley
Middlesbrough v. Newport County
Newcastle United v. Watford
Portsmouth v. Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City v. Gillingham
Shrewsbury Town v. Wolves
Millwall v. Everton
AFC Wimbledon v. West Ham United

Jan. 27
Crystal Palace v. Spurs
Chelsea v. Sheffield Wednesday

Jan. 28
Barnet v. Brentford

Leeds’ Bielsa admits he spied “all the rivals”; How widespread is spying?

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Managerial darling Marcelo Bielsa spoke out Wednesday as fallout continues from a Leeds United scout caught spying on Derby County last week.

Bielsa says he’s spied on every team the club has played in the Championship this season.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

How rare is this? And how big of a role has it played in Leeds’ 4-point lead in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League? From the BBC:

“I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents,” he said. “All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn’t violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.

“We feel guilty if we don’t work enough, it [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behavior.”

The 63-year-old Argentine has spent time at Lille, Lazio, Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, and Espanyol in addition to running the national teams of Argentina and Chile.

It does raise the question of how much spying is done in soccer. We know that the NFL’s New England Patriots cheated during a game against the New York Jets and that MLB teams try to steal signals, but sneaking around a training session… is that okay? Should it be?

55-goal Martinez re-ups with Atlanta through 2023

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Josef Martinez has signed a new deal with Atlanta United, with a contract tying him to the club through the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

Martinez, 25, has 55 goals in 61 games for the Five Stripes since arriving from Torino in 2017, a strike rate unlike anything the Venezuelan had been able to do in his career with the Serie A club, Young Boys, or Caracas.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

That development has him happy to lock down a new Designated Player deal in Georgia, one that certainly would raise his transfer value. From AtlUtd.com:

“This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It’s unique,” Martinez said. “They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that’s why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I’ve always had. I’ve said before that I don’t want to go anywhere because this is my home. You can expect more work, more intensity, because that’s who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.”

With neither Newcastle nor Real Betis ready to meet Atlanta’s transfer fee for Miguel Almiron, the Five Stripes are in a bit of a bind with a reported deal for expected DP Pity Martinez despite having the league maximum three DPs in Martinez, Almiron, and Ezequiel Barco. Perhaps the European clubs are trying to force Atlanta’s hand.