Overpaid & Undervalued- My MLS Journey Continues


I hope you are all happy. Because of Major League Soccer my sleep pattern is wrecked and my wife hates me. Every time there is a mediocre game on that I want to watch I set my alarm to go off at god-awful o’clock and wake both me and my wife up. I have suggested she joins me and watches DC United v Real Salt Lake City but sadly she just suggests I sleep in the spare room. Even so I wouldn’t swap my MLS experience. I have enjoyed even the meaningless games that count for very little and it seems as a Toronto FC fan I will have a few more of them to come before the end of the season.

This week I have been busy studying players wages and Major League Soccer’s interpretation of the salary cap. I am an advocate of capping the wages of overpaid footballers but English football has gone past the point where it could ever be possible. MLS on the other hand hasn’t and perhaps has devised a system where they can both pay footballers relatively reasonable wages yet still attract big names.  For any of my English followers there is a very long and complicated list of all the roster rules and regulations here, but very basically what it boils down to is this:

  • Every MLS club has $2,675,000 P/A to spend on 18-20 “Salary Budget Players”
  • The maximum budget charge for a single player is $335,000 P/A. fi
  • Each club is allowed to acquire up to three players whose salaries exceed their budget charges who   are called designated players e.g. Thierry Henry and David Beckham.

I could go further but I am conscious that I may bore my readers who are familiar with Major League Soccer and its rules into submission.

Since the beginning of my MLS journey it has become clear it is a competition where parity is paramount. To some degree the salary cap reflects this yet it does raise questions. The dilemma for Major League Soccer is that parity can never wholly coexist with designated players. Chivas USA pay Juan Pablo Angel $1 million per year while LA Galaxy pay David Beckham $5.5 million and Robbie Keane $2.9 millon per year and the table reflects that.  However if MLS is to expand and succeed within America it certainly needs to attract big names. Whilst “DP’s” may not bring parity they certainly will bring with them the ability to enthuse and perhaps increase attendances.   There are no Chelsea’s or Manchester City’s in Major League Soccer and under the current guidelines there never could be and that is refreshing. For me the MLS interpretation of the salary cap is a far better system of wage structure than we have in the UK. It seems close to fitting in with Major League Soccer’s identity but perhaps it is not quite there.  From the outside looking in maybe a larger salary cap on designated players could be an idea worth exploring. Whilst it is clearly important to attract big names the current DP system does punch a hole in the club equality ethos MLS seems dedicated to.

I was out having a quiet drink with a friend this week when he made the mistake of asking me what I did with my weekend. I foolishly launched into a tirade about how I spent Saturday night and Sunday morning watching a game I think resembled football. For those unsure I’m talking of Chivas’ 3-0 demolition of Toronto FC. Those close to me will tell you that I do enjoy a grumble but in this case I’m sure most will agree with me. Before kickoff it was difficult to see any logic in starting the first choice eleven, but by full time the only difficulty was seeing how they in fact could be anyone’s first choice eleven. Toronto were naive, lackadaisical, lazy, average but worst of all short of ideas and if Saturday’s performance is replicated against Puma’s then they will be battered once again. Still every team can have a bad day, and perhaps Saturday was simply exactly that. I leave you with perhaps the most disturbing stat to date:

Julian De Guzman is paid a base salary of $1,910,746.00 per year. That is more than Danny Koevermans and Torsten Frings put together. That is well over 4 times what possible MVP Dwayne DeRosario earns.

Brilliant. Until next week goodbye!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Overpaid & Undervalued- My MLS Journey Continues

  1. Jimmy,

    The whole issue surrounding JDG’s contact has been a major sticking point for TFC fans over the past 2 1/2 years. His ridiculous price tag is part of the legacy of mismanagement left by Mo Johnston. JDG was promoted as an attacking mid saviour on a route one club when he spent most of his time in Spain as a holding mid. Coupled with knee problems over the past year and a half, its taken a new, possession based system and time for him to finally show is worth in this league. Hopefully his play will improve again for next year.

    It’s promising in the long run to see Winter sign Frings and Koevermans to cheaper salaries than JDG, Its shows that the new management group has a better grasp of player valuation and wont soon create inter-player jealous over contracts.

    Of course,TFC fans could fill this board with arguments over the De Ro saga. Johnston’s contact approach seemed to follow a pattern like this: 1) overvalue a player and sign him to a ridiculous contact 2) turn away/blow off undervalued players when they demand a wage increase. 3) Repeat steps 1 and 2. If on-field value was proportional to wage, JDG’s and De Ro’s contracts should have been swapped. (As a side note, I have a slight problem with players demanding salary increases a year after they’ve signed a new, long term deal. If you don’t want to be tied down to a set wage for five years, don’t sign the #”$% contract [or include a clause for renegotiation]).

    As much I as loved De Ro as a player and for his community work, I wasn’t the biggest fan of his personal attitude. He certainly didn’t do anything to play down the “Me Ro” label. While I won’t deny the value he could have added to the club this year (and the value he did add over the past 2 years), I think Winter and Paul Mariner made the right move in moving him this season. He’s an individual playmaker who likes to roam at will all over the park. That style of play just didn’t fit into Winter’s vision of building a proper, team first 4-3-3. Add the that all the baggage from his prolonged contract saga and his disdain for the club’s administrative group and Winter would have been left with one big headache for most of the season.

  2. Olly02

    But he had cool hair in that picture. No longer, sadly.

  3. It’s worth noting that the reported salaries for Danny and Torsten are prorated. Since they were signed on July 15th their salary (and cap hit) were reduced by approximately 50%.

  4. Adam

    As an outsider looking in who doesn’t follow TFC all that closely, I’d say what Aron Winter has done in just the second half of the season is pretty impressive, especially considering all the new unacquainted personnel. If TFC management can see it in their hearts (and pocketbooks) to give him a couple more years I feel that it will pay off and TFC fans will be really happy with what they see.

  5. prizby

    jimmy got a realize that the dp’s that have been signed in the summer (ala Frings, Koef, Keane); that’s there salary for the next 6 months…multiply it by 2 to get their full year salary (when JDG signed halfway in 09, he got around 900k)

    also there are a few players that make more than 335 that are not dps and thus their full salary count against the cap
    DeRo
    Sharlie Joseph
    Jay DeMerit
    to name a couple

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