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Updated Chicago Fire/MLS Player Salary Numbers

Want to know how much German International Arne Friedrich makes?  Here's a hint: he is a bargain for the quality play and leadership we are getting.  Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE
Want to know how much German International Arne Friedrich makes? Here's a hint: he is a bargain for the quality play and leadership we are getting. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

For those that may have missed it, updated MLS player salaries are out as of yesterday. This includes all new players that have recently joined clubs. Take a look at this link for information on not only the Fire, but for other teams in the league as well. It is always interesting to look at updated numbers for players, especially for all the new faces. It's even more telling when you are a little over halfway through a season. These figures really show which players have been a great deal, and which ones may have been an expensive flop (*cough cough* Puppo as a DP *cough cough*). I encourage you to check the link out to get the full scoop on various other teams and players in the league if you are interested.

Big hat tip to Tweed for the help on the graph and a couple of other parts of this article.

And now, before we go any further, this disclaimer has to be made:

Horoscopes in the newspaper come with the warning of "for entertainment purposes only". In a world of allocation money, transfer fees, and MLS secrecy rivaling Fort Knox, you could say the same thing about the Fire salary numbers after the break. All of our analysis is based on what we have collected in conversations with MLS officials, team employees, players, agents, and other reliable sources. As I did with my fries while I finished this during lunch, take it with a good amount of grains of salt. Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times and off we go...

2012 Chicago Fire

Last Name First Name Pos 2012 Base Salary 2012 Guaranteed Compensation
Alex M $96,000 $105,950
Anibaba Jalil D $65,450 $105,450
Barouch Orr F $44,000 $44,000
Berry Austin D $44,000 $59,000
Bone Corben M $100,000 $161,200
Fernandez Alvaro M $300,000 $366,666
Friedrich Arne D $175,000 $230,833
Gargan Dan D $88,000 $88,000
Gibbs Cory D $165,000 $165,000
Grazzini Sebastian M $50,400 $50,400
Gulley Kellen F $55,000 $69,000
Johnson Sean GK $90,000 $123,000
Jumper Hunter D $33,750 $33,750
Kinney Steve D $44,100 $44,100
MacDonald Sherjill F $360,000 $487,125
Nolly Jay GK $78,250 $78,250
Nyarko Patrick M $200,000 $219,500
Oduro Dominic F $106,880 $108,880
Paladini Daniel M $82,500 $86,978
Pappa Marco M $135,000 $140,000
Pardo Pavel M $250,000 $250,000
Pause Logan M $170,000 $187,833
Pineda Victor M $44,100 $50,842
Puppo Federico F $100,000 $100,000
Robayo Rafael M $100,000 $132,500
Rolfe Chris F $174,996 $198,329
Segares Gonzalo D $210,000 $217,750
Tornaghi Paolo GK $33,750 $33,750
Videira Michael D $44,100 $44,725
Walls Tony D $33,750 $33,750

First Impressions

Let's start from the top. Alex hasn't had time enough yet to really show what he can do, but I think it's safe to say that if he rounds into the form that the FO thinks he can, then the money he is making could seem like a bargain. Right now it's simply too early in his Fire tenure to really judge what he is making versus performance we are getting on the pitch.

The next couple of names I looked at were Jalil and Austin. Jalil is making a good salary for a 2nd year player and I think he has been good enough to earn it. On the flip side, it seems like we have a steal in Austin Berry for what he is making. Obviously being a rookie he is going to start out making a lower salary, but I think it's safe to say he is due for a nice sized raise in the near future. Especially if he keeps up his Rookie of the Year form.

The next big eye opener is Mr. Corben Bone. Tweed has been a long time fan but no matter what he does, he finds a stack of talent in front of him that prevents him from getting minutes. His salary is higher due to his Generation Adidas status, which pays players in that class more. Still, that's a rather large salary to be only getting a few scant minutes every season. I think this would be alleviated some if the Fire were still in the US Open Cup or had CONCACAF Champions League matches. Extra games in the schedule like these are prime opportunities for players to get some playing time that normally don't see the pitch in MLS play. I don't need to tell you that we aren't in CCL play, and I don't even want to remember this year's exit from USOC play. The cards seem to be stacked against Corben right now. I would love to see him get his big chance, but I just don't see it happening with the current roster that is in place. That leaves me to wonder how long the Fire can continue to pay a high salary to a player that isn't playing.

Alvaro's numbers are here for all to see now. He is making DP money but compared to some of the more overpriced DP's in MLS, I think his deal is pretty good. If we get the play he showed he can contribute on a regular basis in Seattle, it will be a very shrewd deal. We only had to give up allocation money to get him and we get at least another year of control after this. Arne Friedrich is an absolute steal to me. Other than a couple of injury hiccups, when he has been on the pitch his impact has been both influential and very effective. Simply put his salary is cheap for someone of his pedigree and experience. And he's not even a DP. I think this bit of business was a fantastic move by the FO. Unfortunately I can't say that for all of their recent moves.

Sebastian Grazzini

It pains me to look at the Grazzini numbers. While I don't think anyone but the parties involved know the full story, he would have been an incredible value if he was indeed making only $50,400 a year. However, that brings up the '$50,400 question'. Team officials have told Hot Time In Old Town that Grazzini has always been among the highest paid players on the team since joining the Chicago Fire back in July of 2011. A reliable source that is familiar with how the Major League Soccer Players Union reports their numbers said there's room for some discrepancy in what is reported on this release and what is actually paid out to players. However, that source was unfamiliar with any possible way that Grazzini could have been among the highest paid players on the Fire and been reported at $50,400.

One scenario that would explain Grazzini's salary discrepancy situation could be a third-party contract. Former Fire striker Diego Chaves was allegedly on a third-party deal that saw him make 40% of the total wages that were on his deal while his third-party/agent earned the other 60% of his wages. If Grazzini was signed under a similar arrangement, that would explain how his salary according to the Major League Soccer Players Union is so low when the Fire say his salary is relatively high. The only wrench in this theory is that Javier Leon, President of Soccer Operations for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, told Hot Time In Old Town back in July that none of the players signed with the Fire are signed under third-party contracts. As you can see, nothing is simple with Sebastian Grazzini or MLS salaries. Whatever Grazzini's deal is worth, it's now money to a resource the team isn't getting any use out of.

Comparison Numbers

It's kind of crazy to me that Johnson is making $40,000 less than Bone given how much the star goalie contributes to the team. Sean's contract is reportedly up after this year. While I am sure every single Fire fan wants him to stay, he will definitely command a hefty raise, possibly even to DP level salary. If he keeps up his insane form, European leagues could come calling with dollar signs we can't come close to matching. It's my hope we can get another 2-3 years of SJ in Chicago, but much like Marco Pappa's situation, when big clubs come calling, it's a hard career opportunity to turn down.

Sherjill MacDonald's numbers as the 2nd club DP are here for you as well. Again, like Alex, the full value of the signing won't be able to be seen until he gets a dozen or so games at full fitness under his belt. I think signs have been more encouraging than not so far. Dominic Oduro's salary is also a good value to me. Yes, he has struggled more this year, but to have a striker with his speed that, on his game, can be deadly for the money we are paying him is a solid deal.

And then comes Puppo and Robayo. I don't have to tell anyone how big of a flop both signings have been. Because of various factors, both players ended up being a couple of the worst signings we have made in recent memory. In Puppo's case, the salary doesn't look bad upon first look. That is until you consider the fact that we paid such a large transfer fee to get him that it put him in the DP category. And that's a DP that couldn't earn playing time and barely made it through half a MLS season before we had to unload him on a loan deal. That sizeable transfer fee would have been nice to have been able to use on another player that could have contributed to the team. But, it's water under the bridge now as they say.

Robayo makes the same $100k. It's at least a little better that we didn't have to pay a transfer fee to acquire him. I know the transfer market is not a perfect science and there will be flops as well as successes. But a colossal failure like these two players can only leave a bad taste in one's mouth. Given how Robayo acted, he didn't deserve to be paid 5 dollars in my opinion, let alone $100k. Sherjill has been with the Fire for a couple weeks and already has numerous tweets about loving the club and city. Robayo had been with the club for 6 months and all he did was complain. It's so nice to have him gone. If Robayo didn't want to wear Fire red, I didn't want him here, bottom line.

The last player I wanted to comment on is Tornaghi. From the limited action we have seen, he looks like he could have a bright future. With the current money he is making, it's almost a steal to have a goalkeeper of that caliber waiting in the wings. If Sean does leave after this season or even another year, then we have another very good goalkeeper already in place at a good bargain. Having a plan in place in case your star goalkeeper leaves is not only a good plan, it's a necessary plan and I believe we now have that.