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MLS Players Union Releases Salaries

For the second straight year, the MLS Players Union has released the salaries of its members to the public. After looking at the numbers, its fair to say that Jeremy Barlow’s buddies won’t be asking him to pick up any bar tabs anytime soon. The 2008 Mr. Irrelevant makes a paltry $12,900 a year. No, there are no zeroes missing.

And people actually wonder why guys like Ty Harden decide to just pack it up and get square jobs.

A quick perusal of the numbers shows that the divide between the richest and poorest players dramatically widened during the 2008 offseason.

I am not sure why the union would be so quick to release these numbers. Though it pains me to say it, these salaries simply enforce the notion that MLS is a second rate league. I mean, Jonathan Bornstein is one of the best defenders in the league, a national team contributor and a great all-around athlete, and he only makes $77K a year?

No wonder these guys are so eager to make the jump across the Atlantic.

I will have plenty more analysis regarding these numbers and their meaning throughout the week, but I thought first I would simply set out the top 15 richest players in 2008 based on their guaranteed compensation (no incentives included). No suprise at the top, but I think there are some names on this list that will make you do a double take:

  1. David Beckham ($6.5 million)
  2. Cuauhtemoc Blanco ($2.7 million)
  3. Marcelo Gallardo (1.9 million)
  4. Juan Pablo Angel ($1.6 million)
  5. Claudio Reyna ($1.3 million)
  6. Landon Donovan ($900k)
  7. Carlos Ruiz ($460k)
  8. Christian Gomez ($430k)
  9. Guillermo Barros Schelloto ($425k)
  10. Dulio Davino ($400k)
  11. Taylor Twellman ($350k)
  12. Carl Robinson ($330k)
  13. Dwayne De Rosario ($325k)
  14. Shalrie Joseph ($325k)
  15. Pablo Mastroeni ($318k)

So, the moral of the story? Selling jerseys will net you more than scoring goals. I am not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but you can’t deny it. Emilio was last year’s Golden Boot winner, yet his salary ($313k) is dwarfed by several of those cited above.

If you’ll notice though, DCU has no player on that list, other than Gallardo. Not bad for a two-time defending Supporters’ Shield winner. Houston, two-time defending MLS Cup champ also only has one name on the list (#13). Meanwhile, teams with mediocre 2007 finishes seem to be flush with the high priced stars. LA has #1, #6 and #7 while NY has both #4 and #5. So, money spent doesn’t necessarily translate into wins. Look at the Goats, who finished second overall in the league last year without a single player on the above list. But they did have Bornstein and Maykel Galindo, whose $85k a year contract looks like a pittance compared to Ruiz’s bloated $460k salary.

Of course, the only other two teams with no one on the above list are SJE and RSL (I am assuming Claudio Lopez would be up there for KCW, but for some reason his salary was omitted when the numbers were released early last week). So, let’s not forsake spending a little dough on players just yet.

So who in the top 15 deserve their pay?

Beckham does. He makes that $$$ back and more for his owners. He may not score as many goals as Emilio, but he will net far more in profits for the Gals, and the league for that matter. Heck, that’s why MLS has a Beckham Rule in the first place.

Who else? Well, I think Blanco, Angel, Donovan, Schellotto, Joseph, Twellman and De Rosario earn their fat checks. In fact, I would say each of them is probably underpaid based on their importance to their squad. I think Gallardo will eventually join these guys, but for now he is still going to have to stay in the “wait and see” department.

Reyna, Ruiz, Davino, Robinson and Mastroeni are not worth those big numbers in my opinion. Reyna is perhaps the most overpriced player in the league. Ruiz, though once a force, is now more of a flop. Davino looks flat, plus I just don’t think you spend that much on a single defender in MLS (you could have Albright, Moor, Bornstein and Waibel for about the same total amount). Robinson making more than Emilio is a joke. And I love Pablo, but that’s alot to pay for a defensive midfielder who doesn’t seem to ever contribute on offense. Joseph is defensively minded as well, but every once in awhile he will net a goal or start a quick counter attack with a searing pass. Pablo hasn’t done that in quite awhile it seems.

The thing that makes me most sick about the above list? Lalas paid MORE for Ruiz than he would have had to in order to get Gomez. Someone explain that decision to me before my head explodes.

How much do you think Alexi makes anyways? Now that is a number I would love to see released.