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Chicago Fire/Major League Soccer Roster Composition 101; Salary, Roster Spots & Domestic/International

The Chicago Fire have 30 players on the 30 man roster with the signing of Cristian Nazarit. The Major League Soccer Players Union just released the salaries for every player including those on our very own Chicago Fire.  MLS' website has recently been upgraded to provide a better looking 2011 Roster Rules page.  We have all the tools we need for a complete roster analysis.  To get started, I want to first provide a post that will get everyone up to speed on the league's labyrinth of rules.  If you know what the terms Base Salary, Guaranteed Compensation, Salary Budget, Generation adidas and Off-Budget Players mean in the context of MLS, you might find this post to be a bit basic but the rules did change significantly for the 2011 season and we do have the players' individual salaries list below.  Follow the jump to read it all.

Let's start very basic with the description of MLS team roster composition.

A Major League Soccer club's first team roster is comprised of up to 30 players. All 30 players are eligible for selection to each 18-player game-day squad during the regular season and playoffs.

The 'up to 30 players' part is important.  Crisitan Nazarit's signing mid-season took place with no corresponding player release.  It's very basic but it demonstrates how MLS teams do not have to have a full roster of 30 players if a team doesn't think it is necessary.  Major League Soccer does not share players' salaries but fortunately the MLS Players Union does.  So how much does each player on the Chicago Fire make?

Team Player Base Salary Guaranteed Compensation
CHI Marko Maric $150,000 $200,000
CHI Patrick Nyarko $110,000 $190,000
CHI Logan Pause $176,000 $184,125
CHI Gonzalo Segares $160,000 $167,750
CHI Bratislav Ristic $144,000 $152,497
CHI Corben Bone $90,000 $151,200
CHI Cory Gibbs $150,000 $150,000
CHI Marco Pappa $120,000 $125,000
CHI Baggio Husidic $82,500 $124,500
CHI Josip Mikulic $110,000 $116,250
CHI Sean Johnson $75,000 $108,000
CHI Dasan Robinson $97,500 $100,000
CHI Dominic Oduro $95,004 $97,004
CHI Yamith Cuesta $72,000 $82,000
CHI Jalil Anibaba $42,000 $82,000
CHI Jon Conway $70,000 $79,833
CHI Daniel Paladini $75,000 $79,478
CHI Gabriel Ferrari $70,000 $70,875
CHI Gaston Puerari $50,000 $50,000
CHI Victor Pineda $42,000 $48,742
CHI Diego Chaves $45,000 $45,000
CHI Kwame Watson-Siriboe $44,000 $44,000
CHI Michael Videira $42,000 $42,625
CHI Mike Banner
$42,000 $42,000
CHI Steven Kinney $42,000 $42,000
CHI Cristian Nazarit $42,000 $42,000
CHI Pari Pantazopoulos $42,000 $42,000
CHI Alec Dufty $32,600 $32,600
CHI Davis Paul $32,600 $32,600
CHI Orr Barouch $32,600 $32,600


There in lies the simple answer to how much everyone gets paid.  You might be wondering what the difference between Base Salary and Guaranteed Compensation is.  It primarily comes down to signing bonuses and other monetary clauses that boost a player's total salary.  For example, if a player got a $20,000 signing bonus for a two-year contract worth $60,000 each year, $10,000 would be added to make his Guaranteed Compensation $70,000 annually.    The Guaranteed Compensation is the number that counts against the each MLS teams' Salary Budget.

Salary & Budget:

  • Players occupying roster spots 1-20 count against the club’s 2011 salary budget of $2,675,000, and are referred to collectively as the club’s Salary Budget Players.
    • Roster spots 19 and 20 are not required to be filled, and teams may spread their salary budget across only 18 Salary Budget Players. A minimum salary budget charge will be imputed against a team’s salary budget for each unfilled senior roster slot below 18.
    • The maximum budget charge for a single player is $335,000.*

    Yes, that's salary budget of $2,675,000 that I am bolding, not salary cap.  Major League Soccer annually gives every team an account to draw down from for player salaries.  This year that amount is $2,675,000.  Whatever the Chicago Fire do not spend from the salary budget, they essentially lose.  It's just like your boss giving you a budget of $100.00 for Friday office lunch.  If you buy $98.00 worth of pizza, the extra $2.00 does not go into your pocket or even your boss's pocket.  The $2.00 goes back to the general company fund.  Teams can't trade salary budget money.  They can't take salary budget money and spend it on stadium improvements.  They can't even use salary budget money for the jerseys or shoes the players wear.  Now, what do the MLS rules mean when they talk about 'roster spots 1-20' and 'roster spots 19 and 20' above?  Let's move farther down the MLS Roster Rules website to get some clarification.

  • Players occupying roster spots 21-30 do not count against the club’s salary budget, and are referred to collectively as the club’s Off-Budget Players (maximum of 10 per team).
  • All Generation adidas players are Off-Budget players.
  • Clubs may sign up to two Home Grown Players to Generation adidas contracts.
  • Players occupying roster spots 1-24 will earn at least $42,000 in 2011.
  • Players occupying roster spots 25-30 will earn at least $32,600 in 2011.
  • Clubs may elect to leave up to two of these roster spots (25-30) vacant and use $35,000 for each empty spot as allocation money.
  • Any player making $32,600 must be under the age 25 (does not turn 25 or older in 2011).
  • Clearly there is a difference between Roster Spots No. 1-20, No. 21-24, and No. 25-30.  These distinctions are important too because players No. 21-30 are 'Off-Budget Players' and do not count against the Salary Budget.  Using the rules above, here's where I think every player on the Fire falls:

    Roster Spot Player Base Salary Guaranteed Compensation Roster
    1 Marko Maric $150,000 $200,000 International
    2 Patrick Nyarko $110,000 $190,000 Domestic
    3 Logan Pause $176,000 $184,125 Domestic
    4 Gonzalo Seagres $160,000 $167,750 Domestic
    5 Bratislav Ristic $144,000 $152,497 International
    6 Cory Gibbs $150,000 $150,000 Domestic
    7 Marco Pappa $120,000 $125,000 International
    8 Baggio Husidic $82,500 $124,500 Domestic
    9 Josip Mikulic $110,000 $116,250 International
    10 Dasan Robinson $97,500 $100,000 Domestic
    11 Dominic Oduro $95,004 $97,004 Domestic
    12 Yamith Cuesta $72,000 $82,000 International
    13 Jalil Anibaba $42,000 $82,000 Domestic
    14 Jon Conway $70,000 $79,833 Domestic
    15 Daniel Paladini $75,000 $79,478 Domestic
    16 Gabriel Ferrari $70,000 $70,875 Domestic
    17 Gaston Puerari $50,000 $50,000 International
    18 Victor Pineda $42,000 $48,742 Home Grown/Domestic
    19 Diego Chaves $45,000 $45,000 International
    20 Kwame Watson-Siriboe $44,000 $44,000 Domestic
    21 Michael Videira $42,000 $42,625 Domestic
    22 Christian Nazarit $42,000 $42,000 International
    23 Mike Banner $42,000 $42,000 Domestic
    24 Steven Kinney $42,000 $42,000 Domestic
    25 Pari Pantazopoulos  $42,000 $42,000 Domestic
    26 Corben Bone $90,000 $151,200 Generation adidas/Domestic
    27 Sean Johnson $75,000 $108,000 Generation adidas/Domestic
    28 Alec Dufty $32,600 $32,600 Domestic
    29 Davis Paul $32,600 $32,600 Domestic
    30 Orr Barouch $32,600 $32,600 Domestic


    Corben Bone and Sean Johnson are signed to Generation adidas contracts so we know they take up two spots between No. 25-30.  Alec Dufty, Davis Paul, and Orr Barouch do not make at least $42,000 so we know they fall outside of roster spots No. 1-24.  As for roster spots No. 21-24, the MLS Roster rules do not implicitly state that you can't have your most expensive player in one of those off-budget spots.  However, front office officials around the league have made comments to the effect that you can't 'stash' certain players off-budget, so I have the rest of the roster lining up from most expensive to least expensive.  Just imagine if a player like Thierry Henry or David Beckham didn't count against a team's budget.  What would be the point of having a maximum anyway?  Speaking of Henry and Beckham, let's move on to Domestic and International slots.


  • In 2011, a total of 144 international slots are divided among the 18 clubs. Each club began with eight international slots, which are tradable. There is no limit on the number of international slots on each club’s roster.
  • The remaining roster slots must belong to domestic players. For clubs based in the United States, a domestic player is either a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident (green card holder) or the holder of other special status (e.g., refugee or asylum status).
  • Chicago is currently using all eight International spots allotted by the league.  The team has not made any trades to acquire additional spots or exchanged an international spot for something else.  The chart below separates all the International players from the Domestic players.

    Player Base Salary Guaranteed Compensation Roster
    1 Marko Maric $150,000 $200,000 International
    5 Bratislav Ristic $144,000 $152,497 International
    7 Marco Pappa $120,000 $125,000 International
    9 Josip Mikulic $110,000 $116,250 International
    12 Yamith Cuesta $72,000 $82,000 International
    17 Gaston Puerari $50,000 $50,000 International
    19 Diego Chaves $45,000 $45,000 International
    22 Christian Nazarit $42,000 $42,000 International


    If technical director Frank Klopas wants to bring in another player from another country, one of these eight guys will have to be shown the door.  As we reported last week, Marko Maric has placed on the MLS disabled list and while that temporarily fills up a roster spot, it does not open up an international slot.  Between Maric's health problems and the performance of Daniel Paladini and Corben Bone in the absence of Logan Pause, I think Maric might get released either way.  His position of defensive midfielder is well covered.  He was added to the team well into pre-season.  I think he was a gamble that wasn't likely to pay off but the team had the budget to spend.  Why not grab that extra pepperoni pizza or even order the anchovies pizza that Doris likes but only eats a slice of every time?  Hey, it's in the budget and the money will go to waste if not spent.  Why not spend it?

    That covers roster composition.  One last note, it is important to remember that Generation adidas and Home Grown status are adjectives to describe the roster designations Domestic or International.  From the MLS website:

    NOTE: The terms Home Grown and Generation adidas are used to describe mechanisms by which players are acquired. They are not roster designations. All players’ roster slots are determined by their compensation and/or age as outlined above.

    It is common to see those terms thrown around like they are designations and it is best to not get confused.  Now that we have the basics established, we'll move onto Advanced MLS Rosters 202 and take a look at how the Fire compare to the rest of the league.