The MLS Players Union released the 2014 salaries for all players. Over the course of the off-season we took our best shot at peering through MLS' opaque salary curtain (with plenty of help from the community). Here's a table of the Union salaries sorted by their estimated salary budget number and a comparison to the prediction. The first column of numbers is 2014 base salary provided by the MLS Players Union. The next column, also provided by the Players Union, is the 2014 guaranteed compensation which includes prorated bonuses among other payments. The third column is the guaranteed compensation estimate we made earlier this year. The fourth column is the current estimated salary budget number (max budget is $3.1M). And the last column was the last projection of that same salary budget.
|Player||2014 Base Salary||2014 Guaranteed Compensation||Projected Guaranteed Compensation||New Projected Budget Number||Prior Projected Budget Number|
|Off Budget Players (estimated)|
|* Prior Projection totals include Jack McInerney who was replaced by Andrew Wenger|
|Salary Budget Number is $3.1M|
|Carlos Valdes not in totals|
|** Homegrown Player|
|^ Generation Adidas player|
|! Designated Player|
Notes & Caveats:
- These observations only reflect information provided by the MLS Players Union and payments made to roster players. Other sources indicate that this is not fully reflective of players expenses for the Union, or any MLS team for that matter. This is the case most notably in 2013 when the Union reportedly were still paying salaries to non-roster players like Freddy Adu and Bakary Soumare.
- Keon Daniel is in these numbers despite his release. It's unclear what the agreement was between Daniel and the Union FO and so I assumed they are still paying all of his salary.
- Carlos Valdes is listed here at $295K but given he has been loaned out. I'm assuming that San Lorenzo de Almagro is paying his full salary and not the Union.
- None of these numbers include transfer fees we can assume were paid for Maurice Edu, Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira. So while it may look like the Union didn't spend much incrementally from these reports, it's safe to assume they invested quite a bit to bring that midfield to PPL Park.
- The MLS total base salaries increased 21.7% or $18.5 since the last publishing of the numbers. That's a solid off-season of spending given the salary budget number only increased by 5%.
- Total guaranteed compensation for the league reached $115.3M, a 21.1% increase over the end of 2013.
- Not surprisingly, Toronto FC did the bulk of that incremental spending. TFC guaranteed compensation grew from $4.35M to $15.65M and accounted for 61% of the league spending increase.
- Union guaranteed compensation for roster players increased by 8% to $3.94M (not including Valdes)
- Edu's much rumored salary came in at $650K, almost twice as much as the next highest paid player Nogueira at $330K (and yes, I grossly overestimated his salary, but more on that later).
- If you compare just players on the roster both in 2013 and 2014, those players received an average raise of 16%.
- In December, the community voted that Amobi Okugo deserved the biggest raise, receiving 26% of the vote. And the Union FO listened! Ok, probably not, but Amobi still got the biggest percentage raise at 43%.
- Sebastian Le Toux got the biggest raise in terms of dollars earning a $50K raise. Hmmm.
- Next highest raise percentage was Leo Fernandes who jumped 38% to $48.5K. Even with the raise, he still may push Ray Gaddis this year for best bargain.
- I have the Union $85K over the salary budget and that is clearly not right. The trouble is there just isn't enough information to determine precise numbers. You can assume that the Union are under budget, but my guess is not by much. It seems likely they've bought down one of the DPs below the maximum allowed of $387,500 but we'll never know for sure.
- I keep triangulating in my mind three salaries from this full list; those of Nogueira, Edu and Kyle Beckerman from RSL. Edu makes $650K and Nogueira $330K. Beckerman now makes $350K. What can we learn about MLS and their market determinations from these three comparable midfielders? In Beckerman you have loyal MLS citizen and central force of one of the best franchises in MLS. He has almost as many USMNT caps as Edu (35 for Beckerman versus 46 for Edu) and probably has a leg up in reaching Brazil. Edu, 4 years his junior, went the European route and years ago had enough success to earn a shot of the best league in the world. His Stoke City experiment ended in frustration, and he has now returned to the US to revitalize his career. Still Edu played on bigger stages than Beckerman, earning minutes in the UEFA Champions League and World Cup. Then there is Nogueira, a one time captain of a Ligue 1 team and excellent midfielder himself. Personally, I would have thought his European pedigree and success at that level would have him be the highest paid of the three. Is there a premium paid for American players who make it to Europe only to return home? Edu's salary would indicate so. Nogueira did not earn a Europe premium salary but he is largely unknown in the US. Beckerman, while a major player on the US stage, has never gotten the call to Europe - or perhaps he just never sought it out. None of these players are goal scorers, so none command the money to be paid at the top of the league. Still, it's interesting to look at how the careers of three midfielders are valued differently by MLS.