[Editor's Note: Great analysis on what the Union's salary cap breakdown is.]
Prior to the start of every Major League Soccer season, the MLS Competition Committee meets to determine how much allocation money each team deserves. Allocation money is used to help ease salary cap burdens by allowing teams to "buy down" the salary of anyone making more than the league maximum $335,000, to re-sign current players, or to spend on players signing with the league for the first time. As the league insists on keeping the amount of funds available to its teams completely secret, I like to picture allocation money as a series of briefcases filled with U.S. currency, distinguishable only by monocles and curly mustaches drawn on each of our forefathers' faces (the original Stache Bash?).
There are many who believe the salary cap exists only in principal, and that certainly seems to have merit when you look at the payroll for the New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy over the last few years - but are the Philadelphia Union playing by the rules? Are they using allocation money gained through trades, missing the playoffs, and obscure roster rules to squeak by with a wink to the league office? Hit the jump for a close look at the roster...
Roster spots 1-20 are for Salary Budget Players that count against the $2,675,000 cap, but spots 19 and 20 can be left empty without any penalty. Players over 24 years old and Discovery Player signings must be placed on the senior roster. Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Roger Torres, Faryd Mondragon, Brian Carroll, Justin Mapp, Stefani Miglioranzi, Sebastien Le Toux, Jordan Harvey, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Thorne Holder, and Carlos Ruiz fit in this category. 12 out of 20 Salary Budget Player spots accounted for, $1,938,479 earned in base salary, $2,216,108.17 in guaranteed compensation.
Spots 21-30 are for Off Budget Players and the team gets $35,000 in allocation money per spot if 29 and 30 are left open. These are reserved for players 24 years old or younger. Danny Mwanga, Amobi Okugo, Jack McInerney, and Zac MacMath don't count against the cap because of their Generation Adidas status. Zach Pfeffer doesn't count against the cap as a Home Grown player. Ryan Richter and Levi Houapeu have salaries that can only put them somewhere in spots 25-30 (minimum salary is $32,600 and they are set to make $32,604). 7 out of 10 Off Budget Player spots accounted for and these players will make $476,458 in base salary, $784,874.67 in guaranteed compensation.
Sheanon Williams, Gabriel Farfan, Michael Farfan, Chris Agorsor, Kyle Nakazawa, and Keon Daniel are all under 25 years old and each have salaries that match or come close to the minimum salary for a player in spots 1-25, though they could really be anywhere on the roster. With the threat of a "minimum salary budget charge," it would make sense for the Union to count these guys against the cap (leaving three empty Off Budget slots) unless the charge is so small that it doesn't make much of a difference. One or more of these players could be moved into an Off Budget spot, however, if they Union signs new players to the senior roster before the freeze on September 15th. With so many players fitting the guidelines for Off Budget Player spots, they could probably get away with moving one of the guys scheduled to make a little more than the others, though I'm not sure that's exactly how it works. These players will make $254,000 in base salary, $295,910 in guaranteed compensation.
If all players in that third group are included in the Salary Budget Players category, the team would still be under the cap with a base salary of $2,192,479 and $2,512,018.17 in guaranteed compensation. Depending on whether it's base salary or guaranteed compensation that actually counts towards the cap, the Union are somewhere between $160,000 and $480,000 under the cap without the use of allocation money or the Designated Player rule.
Think this explains why we didn't take on Benny Feilhaber's gigantic salary? Hoping to see a few guys cleared out to make room for a big summer signing? Leave your thoughts below!