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SBI MLS All-Overpaid Team

KennyMiller (Whitecaps)


As we learned when the MLS players salaries were released recently, there are some players who are paid way less than the value they bring to their teams. We also saw predictable and clear evidence that there are players who are coming nowhere close to bringing a good return of investment on their sizable salaries.

What makes a player truly overpaid? Is it fair to call a player overpaid who has been forced to the sideline by a lengthy injury? Not really, so for the purposes of our All-Overpaid Best XI, we have tried to keep out players who have missed a majority of matches due to injury.

Does being on the All-Overpaid team mean a player isn’t a good player. That isn’t necessarily the case either. In some cases, a team has chosen to bench a player who could potentially be starting regularly for other teams, like a Heath Pearce. While that maybe the case, the reality is they are not bringing back a good return on the investment their salaries represent, and yes, you can put some of the blame for that on the teams those players play for.

Something else to consider when putting together an All-Overpaid team is whether that player’s team has a less expensive alternative who is starting over them, or outperforming them.

We also have to acknowledge that, as things stand, we are only a third of the way through the season. There is ample time for players to turn things around and start earning their money, but for players who look to have tougher roads to those kind of turnarounds, they have a spot on this team.

Lastly, the reality is that the worst examples of truly overpaid players are players who aren’t on MLS teams right now, but who had their awful contracts bought out by teams desperate to be rid of them. Kris Boyd made $1.5 million in 2012, and the Timbers paid a princely sum to be rid of him.

And the worst bargain in MLS this year? There is little doubt that player is Rafa Marquez, who the Red Bulls bought out this winter. He made an obscene total of $4.6 million in 2012 and there is good reason to believe the Red Bulls paid him at least half that, and likely more, to leave MLS and join Mexican club Leon.

As for the players currently on MLS rosters and drawing salaries worth much more than the production and level of play they have produced? Here are our picks for the current SBI MLS All-Overpaid Best XI:


————–Kenny Miller——————-Sherjill MacDonald————-


——————————Jose Kleberson————————————-


Dilly Duka—————————————————–Matias Sanchez


——————————Shalrie Joseph————————————–


Heath Pearce–Rodrigo Diago—-Bakary Soumare—-Richard Eckerlsey


——————————Stefan Frei—————————————–



For those who hadn’t caught on, I tried to select a team based on regular positions, which is why a Heath Pearce is on ahead of some centerbacks who are definitely worse overall values.


The list isn’t strictly a “what they’ve done through the first two months” list either. There are other factors as well. Such as average salaries at each player’s position, and my own measure of their ability as compared to other players at their posititon.


When the 2013 season is over, I will run an updated All-Overpaid Team. I also plan on running a 2012 All-Overpaid team next week. That’s when I’ll call it the 2013 MLS All-Overpaid Team. For now, we’ll leave the year off.


Stefan Frei- He started the season injured, but has stayed on the bench since returning due to the solid form of Joe Bendik ($46,500), thus making Frei the most expensive back-up goalkeeper in the league. Could he start for some other teams? Sure, but right now he’s not and he’s taking up a big salary slot.


Heath Pearce- It might seem unfair to list a player who would absolutely start for most teams in MLS, but the reality is he isn’t starting for the Red Bulls and his salary is four to six times higher than the salary of some very good starting left backs in MLS. If he wins his job back, or gets traded, he wouldn’t last on this list. It should be noted that there is the possibility Chivas USA is still paying a portion of his salary. Even if they were paying half, Pearce’s salary slot on the Red Bulls would be higher than most starting left backs in MLS.


Rodrigo Diago- Kaka’s brother is being paid more than MLS Defender of the Year Matt Besler and hasn’t played a single minute despite being healthy. By all accounts this looks like a guaranteed deal swung by the previous regime in New York, with the clear hope of luring Kaka to the Red Bulls.


Bakary Soumare- Much like Pearce, you can’t help but wonder how Soumare would be faring on another team, or if he were starting with the Union. He is about to get his chance to impress and if he has a strong run, he could wound up being traded, and almost assuredly would play himself off this list when it is revisited at the end of the season.

Something interesting to consider is whether people feel a player who isn’t playing is a worse value than a high-priced player who is playing terribly. There are definitely some high-priced centerbacks who are costing their teams goals and points regularly this season.


Richard Eckersley- His salary figure is lower than it was last year, when it was $390,000, but he remains an overpaid right back. How overpaid? He makes more than $60,000 more than the next highest paid right back (Sean Franklin at $248,333) yet Eckersley is an average right back at best by MLS standards.


Shalrie Joseph- He makes almost $600,00 and hasn’t been able to stay healthy. It should be noted though that Chivas USA is picking up a chunk of his salary, so he isn’t as bad a deal for Seattle as the salary would suggest.


Jose Kleberson- Yes, we realize that by acquiring Kleberson, the Union was able to get rid of Freddy Adu’s large contract, so from a value standpoint that transaction is still very much a net gain for the Union. That said, the fact is Kleberson is still making almost half a million and he still hasn’t played his way into more minutes and he may never become a full-time starter. So as an investment he was worth it for the Union, but as a value for his roster slot he won’t be unless he can become a solid regular starter


Dilly Duka- He has dealt with some knocks this season, but there is no denying that when he has played he has been disappointing. It should be noted that the Columbus Crew are paying a majority of Duka’s salary as part of the trade with Chicago so the Fire are still getting a bargain for a talented young player who could still break out.


Kenny Miller- The Whitecaps tried to unload him this winter because of his hefty seven-figure salary, but were ultimately unable to. His production to date? Two goals in 230 minutes and he hasn’t played since March. (Note- Miller has had a hamstring injury that has sidelined him). While that is enough reason to leave him out, the fact he wasn’t exactly the most productive DP last year either makes him stay on our list.)


Sherjill MacDonald- Fire fans cringe when they hear MacDonald labeled a Designated Player because he is really only one in name and not in terms of production. He has zero goals and one assist in eight matches, and has yet to play the way he played last year when he helped the Fire reach the playoffs. So why is he on such a high salary? Pretty simple. You aren’t going to find players in Europe at his age (27) for less. Now it’s up to him to produce to that number.


Some would argue that Tim Cahill, at $3.6 million, is an overpaid player who should be on this list. I’m not one of those people. Even before his recent run of goals, Cahill was bringing plenty to the table in terms of leadership and work rate and it was only a matter of time before he started finding the net. Goals and assists can’t be the only measure of Designated Players, and the fact is Cahill brings too many intangibles to the table to be considered a bad investment for the Red Bulls.


Note that several high-priced players are on loan, like Alvaro Fernandez, Carlos Valdes and Freddy Montero. The teams they have been loaned to are picking up most, if not all of their salaries so they aren’t really All-Overpaid eligible.


Who are some players that narrowly missed the cut? Here are some:

Dejan Jakovic ($303,341), Darren O’Dea ($456,250), Bobby Convey ($215,000), Dwayne DeRosario ($645,333), Juan Toja ($295,000), Rafael Teixeira ($284,625)


What do you think of this list? Who else do you think should have been included? Who made the list that you feel is unfairly included?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Shalrie Joseph is (probably) only hitting the Sounders for ~$100k on the cap. The $225k off cap is just funny money, as the Sounders couldn’t have fit a full-priced DP under the cap.

    So is Shalrie Joseph overpaid? Yes.
    Is he a bad deal for the Sounders? No.
    Did Chivas make a terrible deal to court a particular demographic/style? Definitely.

  2. I have to disagree about Dilly Duka. Regardless of who’s picking up a big chunk of his salary and whatever “potential” one may think he has, he has been an abject bust and there’s very little hope he’ll ever be anything better. Sherjill MacDonald, meanwhile, is the kind of “marquee” player who can be mentioned in the same breath with names like Jerry “El Samurai” Tamashiro — as a signing that just makes MLS look like a sorry joke! With abject wastes of money like these two, and a hand-picked assemblage of overrated losers and oafish Revs rejects like Jeff Rent-A-Thug-O-Witz and Wells “Toady Boy” Thompson, there can be no doubt that Frank Klopas is the most clueless coach in MLS by several country miles. When Klopas started putting this roster together a couple years ago, it left you wondering how much crack the guy goes through in a given day — and it has become clear that the answer to that question is a dollar amount well into four figures!

    • What do you disagree with? Duka’s ON the All-Overpaid team. Seems to me you agree with that. As for all the rest of your anti-Fire blather, it’s a pile of hyperbole. Fact is the Fire owner isn’t someone who’s going to spend big money any time soon so the team’s handcuffed. Duka they got cheap, Larentowicz isn’t a bad signing and Thompson is cheap and versatile. MacDonald hasn’t played well and can’t really be argued this season has been a disappointment for him, but it’s been the combo of MacDonald not producing and Friedrich being hurt that has really put Chicago in a hole.

      BTW, there is nothing wrong with varying opinions. I welcome those. What I don’t welcome are people who specialize in negativity and consistently caustic and abrasive commentary. That stuff doesn’t really great a good environment for debate and discussion and devolves simple debates into angry fights. Some folks just can’t grasp the concept or civil discourse and those people aren’t going to be around for too long in our comments sections.

  3. What happened to Convey, was it just injuries? He was an exciting player at reading when they got promoted. I always felt like he could have been a lot better than he was/is.

  4. Kenny Millers goal rate of 2 in 213 minutes is hardly awful. Of course for a guy making that much you expect more than 213 minutes. But it’s still early in the season…

  5. Love the article and love the amount of discussion I see by Ives in the comments. Will be interested to see if Joseph can regain fitness and become at least an average CM for the Sounders because if the early injuries are any indication they will need him. He has looked a couple steps off the pace thus far.

  6. I think you see a lot of overPRICED players on teams with a lot of coaching or management changes. The more stable and successful teams usually have the personnel to vet some of the “future MLS stars” that agents pitch to them. Believe it or not there is a lot of hype that agents push on MLS teams to sign their client. Yes, there are teams who have their own scouts, their own technical directors and assistant coaches who personally see, watch and evaluate potential players. Sadly though, there are teams in the MLS who hope bringing in a hyped up former “star” to the team, without much thought on what he brings to the table, and hope they can turn their fortunes around. Then there are the intangibles. Some foreign players do not adapt well to a foreign culture and it affects their play. Many moons ago, I was an American in a foreign land playing a sport where their were not too many Americans. I thrived, and did pretty well, Another athlete, who was , IMHO, was much better than me, did not adapt and went home early having accomplished very little. So I know how it goes. Many teams feel they have to pay players a lot because of their past reputation, and the MLS does reward longevity in the League with improved contracts, and too many contracts are structured that way instead of performance metrics..

  7. How is it that legendary free kick specialist Juninho does not make this list? Has he hit one quality free kick for RBNY this year? And his defending — well, what defending . . .

    • Juninho makes 200K. Hardly a huge total. He hasn’t been great, but has had some good halves and there are simply other players on more money who have done less or aren’t even playing.

  8. Also interesting to think about: sum of all MLS players base salary ~ 80 million USD, sum of Man City payroll: ~308 million USD. Man City’s roster gets paid almost four times as much as our whole league.

    • If you get Johnnie Walker Black you’ll pay about $35. Johnnie Walker Blue will cost about $200. It doesn’t taste that much better. You’re paying alot more for something that’s slightly better. Thats what exists in soccer today. Teams will pay alot for the best even though they’re slightly better than very good players.

      • A friend of mine who used to work for Johnnie Walker told me the same thing, dollar for dollar you get your best money’s worth by drinking JW Black…this is making me thirsty.

  9. If DCU is fielding the second team, TFC has got to be fielding the third.

    Also, think it stings that Hernandez is making over double what Bernardez makes? Trying to figure that one out…

    • Not that hard to figure out. Hernandez is a long-time MLS veteran who has played himself up the salary charts while Bernardez is in just year two of his deal and he’s one of the players I firmly believe received money either as part of his move to MLS or some other way to supplement his salary. People can pretend that doesn’t happen, but it definitely does.

      Hernandez is obviously not worth double, but a salary at that level comes when you put in steady years as a productive starter in MLS. For Bernardez, he might have paid the price for not having other options, and signed a less than ideal contract (though like I said, I doubt that is all he’s making in total).

  10. You sure you are not just afraid to put Cahill on there and have him score 10 goals playing along with Henry, which along with his name will make him worth $10 million to ESPN-hype type fans.

    Either way, he should be on there in my opinion. You can do so much better with that kind of money.

    • People who deliver that tired “You can do better with that money” line don’t consider the structure and varying elements that make a team strong. Would it be great to have three Thierry Henrys? In theory yes, but what sort of locker room would that create, who would do the really hard work all over the field? In a world where teams could only have one DP, sure, having a Cahill would be a serious luxury, but in a world where you can have THREE DPs, and you already have a Henry, I really don’t see how paying top dollar for a top-class leader and versatile player like Cahill is a bad thing. Could they do better with that money? Sure, but is that money being wasted or not contributing to a good team? Absolutely not. Nevermind the fact NY still has another DP slot to spend on a playmaker.

      So no, I don’t buy the “Cahill’s a bad DP investment” theory. On the Red Bulls he makes perfect sense, gives them a kind of player they ABSOLUTELY need.

      • Once again completely on point. Cahill’s job is not to score 15 goals, it’s to be a force in the midfield and bring solid veteran leadership, which he does.

      • Well I don’t doubt the Cahill type is what NY needs, we can all agree on that, but he is being paid $3.6 million. I think NY can do better, but not just better WAY better.

        Acidburn completely agree on the 15 goals that is why it is such a joke that when he scored a few everyone said ok now he is worth it. He misses a sitter and scores a few easier ones and now, ok he is fine, good signing. I said everyone, but I didn’t mean to point at you or Ives….if you both think his play has been good, it is your opinion…not mine though.

  11. I’d like to see this re-done, taking our everyone that’s dealing with injuries. An all-overpaid but actually playing list.

  12. I disagree with putting Heath Pearce on this list. Even though Miller started a few games over Pearce, that doesn’t mean Pearce isn’t getting significant playing time and contributing. Pearce currently isn’t the back-up for one position, he’s the back-up for three defensive positions. If you think Miller, Holgerson and Olave will be healthy and performing well all season than I agree Pearce is overpaid. That’s an unlikely to happen, Pearce started the last game and the first few games of the seasons. You can get away with having an inexperienced midfielder. However, a poor or inexperienced defender can hurt your team alot more. Having a little depth on defense is worth paying a little extra for.

    • He’s a very expensive back-up at a position where the average spent on starters is lower than almost every other position. Left back is the lowest paid starting spot in MLS, and centerbacks aren’t paid very well either, so if you serving as a back-up at those spots and making more than most other starters in MLS you aren’t a good value. That doesn’t mean he isn’t WORTH the money, it means he’s not earning it right now. I slotted him in at left back on the list. Find me a left back in MLS that’s a worse value than he is given the way things are playing out and how much he’s paid.

      Ultimately, it’s not necessarily a knock on RBNY since Chivas USA gave him the contract and might actually still be paying a portion of it. That doesn’t change the fact he is paid VERY, VERY highly for a back-up left back/centerback. He makes more than Matt Besler and Justin Morrow combined. Now tell me, is he a good value?

      Lastly, him being on the list does NOT mean I don’t think he’s a good player. It means he hasn’t been worth the value THIS year. Maybe if I hadn’t decided to try and identify players at specific positions I could have left him out and put in some more of the terrible and overpaid centerbacks out there, but I didn’t. If Pearce winds up being a regular starter again, which I can definitely see happening, he won’t be on this list when the season ends.

      • Some valid points but when you talk about Cahill you’re saying to look at the intangibles he brings to the team. With Pearce, yes there are defenders in MLS that are better that make less. There are also players that have played better that make alot less than Cahill. If you got rid of Pearce, you would need two above average defenders to replace him. A good LB and good CB since Pearce can play both well. This was a well done article. I would also like to see an article of say top 10 overpaid players regardless of position.

  13. Can we add coaches to this list? Frank Klopas.

    Anything over free is a rip off to the club, city and fanbase.

  14. Do you also realize that Kleberson has been on the Union for a total of 6 games since he was acquired? Not to mention the acquiring was not when he was present in Philadelphia – so in total there were only 5 possible games for him to play since he’s come here.

    He has been subbed in for 2 of them, and is still “working” with the team to earn minutes…

    Now you have to consider the team he is playing for in this. Hackworth is Nowak 2.0 – if you’re not one of his guys, you’re not getting playing time, stupidly enough.

    And concerning Soumare – that’s just an entire fiasco you didn’t even mention that has been publicly (stupidly) aired out. It’s a stalemate in which the Union is completely idiotic in all senses.

    You’ve touched on most cases, but it really seems that you took a superficial look at the players and their stats overall.

    • You can choose to think that way, but you’re wrong. Kleberson as a selection isn’t really just about what he has done or hasn’t done since arriving. The real question is he worth that money? He hasn’t played much at all in recent years and there’s nothing to suggest he’s going to suddenly become a 90 minute force, which is what he’d have to be to justify his salary.

      As for Soumare, why is Philly the one being completely idiotic? I’m willing to bet you haven’t the slightest idea of how those trade negotiations have gone. In part because there’s been misinformation spread about it. Regardless of WHY Soumare isn’t playing, the fact is, to date, he hasn’t played and he makes more than all but 1-2 other centerbacks in the league. That is a bad value, and why he makes the list. It’s pretty simple to understand.

      The list isn’t purely a “stats” thing, it’s a form thing and a value compared to replacement thing. You can feel free to disagree with the selections, but spare me the notion that the process was a “superficial” one simply because you disagree with the picks.

      • IVES DROPPING THE HAMMER!!!! While respecting his clientele

        And I completely agree. Honestly, I think you nailed the All-Overpaid Team

      • Ives on the message board is starting to sound like Ives on his podcast…it’s his way or the highway. I’m waiting for that Garret Cleverly dude to toss him some softballs on here, too.

      • Well it should be stated then how there is a disconnect with FO and player, much like the Adu situation. The problem is that the disagreement or whatever it is is public even prior to Soumare’s interview, thus causing any value we can get for the player to decrease. We only get to hear snippets here and there – and the logical of us tend to take everything the Philly FO says with a grain of salt anymore because they have a tendency to praise players in practice and never play them, cut them, or trade them. Be Soumare, as he makes a good amount, is in no comparison the the likes of Juan Diego Gonzalez who for 2 years only made maybe 3 appearances.

        And Kleberson as you expect him to play instantaniously with the amount he’s making doesn’t really go hand in hand with the amount of time he’s been on the team, with the specific team. Philly so far has the tendency to either play a little to extreme with lineup changes, or overly conservative… this year it’s been conservative with only i think 2 personnel changes overall.

      • I’m not saying Soumare shouldn’t be on there – but there is nothing stated, unless you attempted to subtly – to say that there is the “Soumare wants trade, but Soumare wants to play” situation.

    • I do wonder if it’s too early to write off Kleberson but I don’t think you have a case with Soumare. Ives is right. If he’s not playing and making that kind of money, how can he not be on the list?

  15. If NY picks up some salary, bring Pearce back to his college town of Portland. He can play left and Harrington, while natrually a lefty, can keep pressing forward. I say this after the imperial death march has taken free reign over our depth. Kawulok and DTG are getting reserve minutes, but I’d feel much better with a Jewsbury manning the CB role and having AJB not have to get thrown to the fire as much. That and I am out of my mind too, that helps this make sense. I always liked Pearce when he was on the bluff and root for him whenever he comes to town. Gets a good hand from the TA when he’s warming up.

    • For some reason, I don’t think the Timbers are looking within MLS for players. I’m not sure why this is, but they made domestic moves early and international ones late – Silvestre, Piquionne, and now Kah. Also, they have all 30 roster slots filled.

      I do think Jewsbury at CB would be a bad idea, though. He’s not quite quick or athletic enough, especially when paired with Danso. I would rather leave him on the outside and get AJB some game time.

      Not arguing that Heath Pearce wouldn’t improve the overall quality of the defensive squad, though it’s also not clear how he’d fit into the system, especially considering Porter is very much a systems guy.

    • Jewsbury is thinking his way through playing either back positions with a rigid criteria of a game script. Requiring very little of what is left in his tank of atheticism or soccer IQ. Ever wonder why teams tend to attack down his side consistently?
      Pearce, no thank you!
      Philipp Lahm, yes please! I know wishful thinking

  16. Kenny Miller has been hurt and was actually the key to the Whitecaps 2-0 start.. not a coincidence that they haven’t won since he got hurt. 2 goals in 230 minutes is actually excellent production when you space that out over a season.

    If you are going to pick on injured guys not producing, Koevermans should be well ahead of Miller.

    • “Koevermans should be well ahead of Miller.”

      Koevermans has 17 goals in 26 games played for Toronto. Miller has 4 goals in 16 games played for Vancouver. Both stats from

      Between the two injured players, who would you give the $1.3M salary to?

    • Um he’s been injured this entire season. But when he did play last seasons he was scoring nearly 1 in 2. I wouldn’t consider that overpaid

    • You really think it’s Miller’s absence and not DeMerit’s that has hurt Vancouver more? We’ll agree to disagree. Miller had ONE good game, against Columbus. Scored the winner and did well, but that’s about it.

      I suppose I saw Miller as overpaid given last year’s lack of production as well as this year’s absence. I also suppose you put more stock into those first two games than I do. I also question when a player who some question the fitness of goes down with a hamstring injury. That, for me, carries different weight than a player suffering a torn ACL.

      • I love Jay but if you ignore the Caps shutout streak to start the season last year, their defense is basically the same (not in a good way) as last season with Demerit.

        They’ve been horrible on set pieces with or without Demerit since day 1.

        Miller was excellent against Columbus and just ok in his other 2 games but he was working all over the field. Ultimately, as a forward, he’ll be judged the most on his goal scoring record and, while a small sample size, 2 goals in 213 minutes played is nothing to sneeze at.

      • The purpose of listing 2 goals in 213 minutes wasn’t to point out the goals per minute rate, but he just hasn’t produced. He didn’t produce last year, comes in and pulls a hamstring. There’s a reason Vancouver was trying to unload him this winter. If anything his injury has made it so there can be some question about him maybe actually producing. I won’t blame Vancouver fans for being hopefully that he will be a force when he comes back but there’s not much evidence to suggest he will.

    • Miller is a joke on that salary. There are sssooooooooo many forwards in MLS better than him. Fancouver was stupid stupid stupid on that one. But at least they got rid of Robson.

  17. Nailed it.

    Do you think the CCL teams will add some DP’s with their allocation $? I am sure LA fills their 3rd slot this summer, but the other 3 teams in CCL each only have 1 DP. No salary cap excuses if those 3 teams don’t maximize their DP slots.

  18. It is so tough to judge when a guy like vanilla makes so much more moneys than some others on this list but I would subscribe to Ives perspective. It is tough to consider anyone overpaid when they are valuable starting Contributors

  19. While I might still include him, Joseph basically missed the beginning of the season because he didn’t get a preseason with Chivas(which is something I wouldn’t hold against him). He’s really only missed two games due to injury, and he’s played very well in the games he’s been available. His starting spot is pretty much guaranteed as well.

    • Not sure how many people would agree that Joseph has been consistently good to date since joining Seattle. I think he could be good, but to say he HAS been good so far seems a reach to me.

      • He has played like a player trying to regain fitness. A bit slow, a bit tentative, not wanting to risk injury, and generally a touch less than his best. That being said, he still has good positioning and has performed well if you account for the process of regaining top form in your reasoning.

      • I’ve only seen Shalrie in the CCL games, but I thought he looked good in those games. Preseason and injuries shouldn’t count against him .

      • Maybe I’m biased because I mostly hang out on Sounder@heart, but it’s a widely held belief there that Seattle’s midfield has looked noticeably better with Joseph than when he’s absent.

  20. To be fair, I believe that the Red Bulls aren’t paying Pearce all of that money, I think Chivas is helping out on that.

    • We know that for a fact? I know Chivas USA picked up some salary last year. Not sure it’s been confirmed they’re doing it again this year. And even with that, the fact remains he’s making twice as much as most starting left backs make and he doesn’t even start.


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