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Chicago Fire Salaries: A story of bargains and busts

The MLS released salary information for 2015 Friday. It turns out the Fire have a hard time giving a lot of money to the right players.

Kennedy Igboananike makes much, much more than this man. That's all you really need to know.
Kennedy Igboananike makes much, much more than this man. That's all you really need to know.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 MLS salary information was finally released Friday and there is both good news and bad news when it comes to the Chicago Fire.

Want the good news first? Great. It turns out the Chicago Fire are not as cheap as some fans would think. Successful teams such as the New York Red Bulls, Vancouver Whitecaps, Columbus Crew and Portland Timbers don’t carry a player more expensive than the Fire. Columbus’ overall payroll even appears to be less than the Fire’s all together.

The bad news? The Red Bulls, Whitecaps, Crew and Timbers among others all seem to know how to compete without breaking the bank to Toronto/Los Angeles levels while the Fire do not.

Let’s take a look at the highlights and lowlights of the Fire’s player investments.

1) Joevin Jones is a mammoth bargain of mammoth proportions

Slow clap for whoever made this contract happen. Joevin Jones is making $66,000 this season. $66,000! That’s less than Collin Fernandez, who is making $67,000 to bounce around the USL and develop his game. Jones has arguably been the team’s best player at times this year so to see such a low wage is a bit of a surprise. Granted, I don’t think the most optimistic people saw this coming, so the deal probably made sense at the time. I am, however, all for paying players accordingly and this really is too low for Jones. Hopefully he gets a pay bump next year. There are not many better bargains when you look across the league.

Off a quick glance, other similar steals include Abang in New York at $50,000; Pfeffer in Philadelphia at $60,000; and probably Poku in NYCFC who makes $63,000 but has shown a lot of potential. I’d still say Jones may be the stealiest steal of them all. Harry Shipp is also making just more than $110,000. Not bad. 

2) About these Designated Players …

So this is kind of a problem for the Fire. Shaun Maloney makes $1.5 million and Kennedy Igboananike makes $900,000. Let me put that into a little bit of perspective. No one on Portland makes more than $1 million, which goes to Liam Ridgewell. Federico Higuain makes $1.1 million and he’s been tearing up the MLS for years. Kei freaking Kamara, a proven MLS goal scorer before signing with Columbus, is making about half of Igboananike’s salary at $536,000.

Maloney is a fine player, but to see him make more than Pedro Morales and over $1 million more than Javier Morales is just painful. A Morales, he is not. BENNY FEILHABER IS MAKING $362,000! That’s how smart teams operate. Find top talent, give them workable contracts. I know it’s not fair to compare to other teams. It’s not like Feilhaber was available to the Fire. But it once again shows the Fire’s inability to spend the limited big dollars they have on big-time talent. That is the problem. Not the club being cheap.

3) At least we’re not Houston  

Oof. Houston seems to have way too many $50K - $70K players while also throwing big money around in a questionable fashion. So they are cheap and when they are not they seem to be flawed. Raul Rodriguez at $350,000? DeMarcus Beasley at $813,000? I mean I like him, but that’s steep.

So there you have it. I greatly encourage you all to look through the information. It is pretty fascinating to see the insane range of salaries in this league and you will have a good LOL when you come across Stephen Gerrard’s salary and realize it is more than Robbie Keane’s.

If anything, the payroll release gave me some hope for the Fire. It shows you don’t have to be LA or Toronto to compete. You can be Sporting Kansas City, which has no player over $1 million. Let’s just hope the team will finally get it right and start hitting more of the David Accam $700,000- range signings than the $1.5 million Maloney signings.