The final Union roster moves were announced with a single tweet from @PhilaUnion and a comment from coach Hackworth to David Zeitlin published on MLSSoccer.com. Richie Marquez, Pedro Ribeiro and Fred were the final 3 players to make the roster. While the marginal or even average MLS fan does not necessarily care about the final few roster spots, MLS is missing an opportunity to engage its most rabid fans. The all important die-hard soccer communities should not have to work so hard to put the final roster together. The league should embrace the opportunity for fans to debate the moves and analyze the impacts. Perhaps someday MLS will take notes on how to engage the fans from the other US leagues that dominate the sports landscape.
But all that is in the past. The Union have their roster, and it's time to estimate the club's total investment. Of course we won't really know the salaries for certain until May when the MLS Players Union releases them, and we may never find out the transfer fees involved in bringing the new midfielders into the fold. But in the meantime, they can't stop us from making educated guesses.
The biggest unknowns are deals that brought Nogueira, Maidana and Edu on board. In the case of Nogueira and Maidana there was likely a transfer fee paid. Transfermarkt.com lists Nogueira's market value as $2.8M and Maidana's at $1.2M. That totals $4M dollars. Did the Union and/or MLS spend that much? MLS prides itself on not paying significant transfer fees. If they spent an amount remotely approaching that number they've spent to a level the Philadelphia fans have never seen.
Below is the roster with an estimated guaranteed compensation and estimated salary budget hit for 2014. Only the top 20 players count against the 2014 salary budget.
|Current Roster||Projected Guaranteed Compensation||Projected Salary Budget Number|
|4||Sebastien Le Toux||$229,838||$226,378|
|Off Budget Players|
|** Homegrown Player|
|^ Generation Adidas player|
|! Designated Player|
Then there is the question of the player salaries. The biggest unknowns in the table are the guaranteed compensation levels for Edu, Nogueira, Maidana and Fred. MLS does not release contract figures but there were reports of Edu's deal costing the Union between $400K and $600K. As far as Fred goes, in 2010 he made more than $200K with the Union and made similar dollars in the Australian league the year later. As Fred is winding down his career its unlikely the Union will commit near that money for his services. I put him in at $70K.
I have Maidana's guaranteed compensation at $350K based on a similar market value to Kyle Beckerman who made slightly less than that last year. The transfer fee put the total investment over the DP threshold. Given Nogueira's market value is greater than Maurice Edu's, I put his base salary higher at $600K.
Nogueria is not a DP so allocation money was used to pay down his salary below the DP threshold. Nogueira's salary budget hit will need to be around $240K in order for the Union to meet the salary budget requirement of $3.1M. The paying down of Nogueira's budget hit was important because if Nogueira was a DP, the Union would have been required to pay a $150K luxury tax to MLS in order to hold 3 DPs on the roster.
Some other observations:
- It remains to be seen how the defense is impacted by the swap of Jeff Parke for Austin Berry, but Berry comes much cheaper than Parke. The Union saved about $125K in that exchange.
- The total spent on player salaries is estimated at $4.2M and that is in line with what the Union have spent in past years. The good news is all of the money is now going to players who are on the roster instead of supporting disappointing alumni.
- About 66% of the money is being spent on the expected starters which seems reasonable given they make up 38% of the roster.