Earlier this week, The Major League Soccer Players Association released the annual salary guide, which has the compensation breakdown for every MLS player on a roster as of June 1st. This document is unbelievably important, because unlike the other major american sports, where it’s de rigueur for compensation information to be made public, Major League Soccer has a policy of keeping those things private.
This does two things. It takes heat off the front offices, somewhat. You can’t really make an informed comment as a fan or pundit about club ambition without knowing what players are getting paid and where the money that you have to spend is being spent.
And theoretically, it keeps salaries artificially low by hiding what players make from each other, making it harder for players and their agents to set their value relative to compensation appropriately.
That’s what makes this document valuable to both the players and media and fans alike. It’s especially important this year. The Collective Bargaining agreement expires at the end of January, so it is doubly important for the MLSPA that this information is to be made public. It increases awareness of what players are making, and gets around MLS’s refusal to disclose salary numbers.
So, with that being said, let’s look at some of the highlights where the Chicago Fire are concerned.
Four players are taking home over a million dollars. Bastian Schweinsteiger is taking home the most money at 5.6 million this year. Meanwhile, the Fire’s other impact players Nemanja Nikolic, Aleksander Katai, and Nico Gaitán take home 1.7, 1.3, and 1.4 million dollars respectively.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are three players making under 70K a year, all of them homegrown players.. Jeremiah Gutjahr has the dubious distinction of being the lowest paid salary listed at 56 thousand dollars a year. Just above him are defender Andre Reynolds, who makes the same amount, and goalkeeper Gabreal Slonia, who makes slightly more at 60 thousand.
The two big off season acquisitions in CJ Sapong and Przemysław Frankowski make around the same amount, 475k and Frankie gets paid 450 large.
Last year Johan Kappelhof made 595 thousand dollars and was seemingly on his way out. Instead, he signed a deal for 550k, a salary cut of 45 grand.
One important thing to note with these numbers is that they’re raw data. There’s no context for what they mean in relation to the complex wacky world of MLS salary rules. For example, Bastian Schweinsteiger’s MLS salary marked against the cap is only 530 thousand. He, along with the other Fire DPs of Niko and Alex Katai only account for 1.59 million of 4.24 million of available salary cap space.
Subsequently, the Homegrown salaries of 9 players: all 5 homegrown players, as well as players classified as being under the supplemental and reserve rosters: Mo Adams, Diego Campos, Stefan Cleveland, Amando Moreno, and Elliot Collier also don’t count against the cap.
The MLS roster rules combined with their opaqueness on compensation make following this league tough at times if you care about these sorts of things. The MLSPA’s salary document every year help a lot. With the salary information, it makes it easier to extrapolate how your club’s roster is constructed, and makes it easier to inform opinions on whether or not your club’s front office is doing a good job.
With the Fire, their salary structure is rather straight forward. The players who you think are making the most are, and the players at the bottom of the pile are there too. It will be interesting to see what analysis comes from the coming days and what conclusions are drawn.