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Kaka, Giovinco, Bradley top earners as MLS Players Union releases player salary list


Photo by Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports


MLS’s Collective Bargaining Agreement has been ratified, and now the salaries of each and every in the league has been made public by the MLS Players Union.

The latest figures were released on Friday morning, and Orlando City star Kaka is MLS’s highest earner, taking in $7,167,500 to edge out the Toronto FC duo of Sebastian Giovinco ($7,115,555.67) and Michael Bradley ($6.5 million).

In total, MLS now boasts 21 players making at least seven figures, a group that includes the league’s most recent high-profile additions in LA Galaxy duo Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos, and New York City FC midfielders Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo.

Lampard and Pirlo will make $6 million and $2,315,694, respectively, following their mid-season arrivals. Gerrard, meanwhile, will collect $6,332,504, and Dos Santos, whose signing was announced Wednesday, will bring in $4,100,008.

Bradley remains as the league’s highest-paid American player, followed by TFC teammate Jozy Altidore ($4.75 million), Clint Dempsey ($4.6 million) of the Seattle Sounders, and the New England Revolution’s Jermaine Jones ($3 million).

In addition, fellow Americans Mix Diskerud and Sacha Kljestan will make $750,000 and $537,000, respectively.

Take a closer look at the 21 players making over $1 million and their exact salaries below:

1.Kaka, Orlando City: $7.16 million

2. Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC: $7.11 million

3. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC: $6.5 million

4. Steven Gerrard, L.A. Galaxy: $6.33 million

5. Frank Lampard, New York City FC: $6 million

6. David Villa, New York City FC: $5.61 million

7. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC: $4.75 million

8. Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders: $4.6 million

9. Robbie Keane, L.A. Galaxy: $4.5 million

10. Giovani Dos Santos, L.A. Galaxy: $4.1 million

11. Jermaine Jones, New England Revolution: $3.05 million

12. Obafemi Martins, Seattle Sounders: $3 million

13. Andrea Pirlo, New York City FC: $2.31 million

14. Shaun Maloney, Chicago Fire: $1.58 million

15. Omar Gonzalez, L.A. Galaxy: $1.45 million

16. Pedro Morales, Vancouver Whitecaps: $1.41 million

17. Gilberto, Toronto FC: $1.2 million (on loan to Vasco da Gama)

18. Federico Higuain, Columbus Crew: $1.17 million

19. Kevin Doyle, Colorado Rapids: $1.17 million

20. Innocent Emeghara, San Jose Earthquakes: $1.04 million

21. Liam Ridgewell, Portland Timbers: $1 million


  1. For what the Dynamo are paying. our place in the standings and how far they’ve gone in the open cup seem about right. Wonder if Cubo can make a difference.

  2. Everything thinks Kraft is a cheapass, guess that supports the claim. Even if we’re under a couple more years in that contract, they should’ve offered to renegotiate and at least double that salary

  3. yet Bradley Wright Phillips 8 goals and 8 assist so far this year damm near 30 goals last year 600k … cheers to Ali C and his negotiating abilities lol

    • Well he doesn’t have Henry feeding him chance after chance every week. Still 8 goals so far means he’s on pace for about 15-16 which isn’t bad.

      • He had a couple of adjustments already and wanted yet another one this year. However, he has not been the player this year that he was the last so it’s not likely to happen

  4. As I pointed out the other day, I would bet that the big name signings have a lot to do with the ability of MLS to get foreign TV contracts. Somebody in England or Asia doesn’t know who Chris Pontius is, or even Diego Valeri, but they certainly recognize names like Villa, Pirlo, Gerrard, Lampard and Kaka. They will probably also sell more than a few jerseys.

  5. Those names do matter because they probably bring in more fans. Ticket sales and other merchandise is the name of the game. These people are investments. I am sure the owners of the teams are getting pretty good returns on them.

  6. This list clearly shows that money means little to nothing in this league. DC and SKC have no players on the list yet are the two best teams in the league this year. NYCFC however…

  7. So, Innocent is the highest Earthquakes player, and he has not played much. The Earthquakes are paying too much for injury-prone players.

    • Based on a very quick perusal my nominees for most underpaid are Lee Ngyuen and Marco Pappa. Most overpaid–Adi and Diskerud. I imagine there are a lot of good candidates, but those jumped out at me. I’ve only seen Adi a few times, so he may prove me wrong.

  8. It’s hard to argue against the impact of many on that list. Gerrard, Lampard, Dos Santos, and Pirlo have yet to make impacts but certainly will sooner than later. They will earn their money. I have no doubt. I guess Maloney, Doyle, and Emeghara are only ones I would truly question in terms of impact. You can throw Gilberto is there but he’s as good as gone anyway.

    • Both Maloney and Doyle have less than a full season in, so it’s a little early to judge them. Tim Cahill looked pretty poor his first half season, then did very well the next full season.

  9. DC, the Supporters Shield holders at the halfway mark, do not have one player salaried over $400k (Saborio). In fact, the highest paid player before yesterday’s trade, was Chris Pontius at $365k. Crazy.

    • After that Toronto–NYCFC game last weekend, I was thinking about how a few years ago the story line of Giovinco scored, only to be answered by a David Villa strike, would have seemed impossible of ever happening in MLS. They’ve come a long way.

  10. Wait, how is Mix on $750k and has never been listed as a DP? I don’t remember NYCFC trading for $300k in allocation money before the season even started.

  11. Let’s assume there are 600 MLS rostered players (30 players x 20 teams).

    The above listed 21 make right at $75M combined.

    You taking the over/under on the remaining 579 making a combined $75M?

    • Those numbers aren’t that off. With you calculation, that works out to be about $129,533 or call it $130,000. For the 2014 season, the MLS average and median worked out to be $226,454 and $91,827. Now, anybody with a basic middle statistics understanding will average doesn’t mean that much, but average along with median, range and distribution will tell you the true story.

      The fact that the median was $91,827 tells you HALF the players in the MLS make BELOW $91,827. Think about that! The fact the average is $226,454 tells you that those on top are VERY top heavy. According to the 2014 numbers, the average/median ratio was the same for MLS and NFL (2.47), but there is a better distribution. Aaron Rodgers’ salary is 52 times the size of the league’s lowest paid player. Kaka, makes about $7 million per season, which is almost 200 times what players like Dylan Remick and Bradford Jamieson IV made last year. Kaka alone made more than the 160 lowest paid players in MLS, COMBINED, and accounts for more than 5.5% of total league salary. That means that there are few people (as a percentage) making a lot of money on the top end of MLS than on the top end of NFL.

      MLS should stop bringing overpaid stars. Stop at 3 DP’s and starting developing and paying players better. Maybe then we will steal the mid-tier 500K+ players from Liga MX.

      • The US has become the worst in income inequality among all developed nations, so this is just a reflection of our society. In entertainment, this is the Hollywood mentality. A lot of movies get made because a studio will get a top star for a movie, they pay him or her a boatload of $ and then hope the big name brings out the fans. If the movie is crap, movie quality being something that is rarely in their equation, they lose big bucks. If the movie turns out well, they make extra big bucks. I agree with your outlook and have been arguing for some time that every team should have the ability to take equivalent DP money from one of their DP slots and add it to their salary cap and use it however they want. Instead of spending $5 million on one player, they can spend $1 million on 5 players. It gives teams a lot more flexibility and does more for overall quality and certainly more for depth than the present set-up, all for the same money.

      • i don’t pretend to know the minds of mls owners, but i would guess that they don’t *want* teams spending $1M on 5 players if it means that those teams then won’t spend $5M on one player.

        The $5M players are what brings attention (and tv contract $$$) to the league, and (again, just guessing) the owners are okay with an all-around lower level of play as long as they’re expanding their audience.

      • You could be right. It’s more about the bottom line than about quality. I think they need to do something along my idea if they want to win the CCL consistently, though. Getting to the Club World Championship sure helps the brand, too.

      • and expanding and developing infrastructure and our own abilities here in the states to compete both on the filed and for the $$

    • Yep. Pretty obvious which teams care about winning and which don’t (RBNY). Even “small market” teams like Columbus, SJ and Colorado have players earning over $1m, unlike cheapout Red Bull.

      • That cheap SKC team doesn’t have a player on the list either … but they’re leading MLS in PPG? So do they care about winning or are they cheap? Or are they not mutually exclusive? I’m confused!

      • No one actually wants to live in Kansas dude… I’ve heard it’s a nice town but it still doesn’t negate the fact that it’s Kansas.

      • The stadium is in Kansas City, Kansas. The Chiefs and Royals are in Kansas City, Missouri.

        The Legends, where SKC plays is a bad area with new development that was supposed to attract richer people but it didn’t.

        Kansas City, Missouri is an amazing city though

      • Sporting Park is located in Kansas City, Kansas, a good 20 minute drive from the Missouri border. That’s not to say that players can’t live in KC, Missouri and commute into Kansas. I was just there for the Gold Cup and after seeing the Kansas side, that’s what I would do!

      • I went to University of Kansas and my senior year, I worked in the VIP ticket holder restaurant and bar. It was awesome to watch games there (secretly) and the stadium is gorgeous, I miss it a lot. I wouldn’t say it’s 20 minutes from Missouri though, they’re one city divided by the Missouri river which serves as the states borders.

        From Lawrence, KS where KU is, it took about 20-30 to get to the stadium. Most people who grew up in Kansas and work in KC all live on the Missouri side because yeah it’s way nicer, cleaner, safer. But Johnson County in Kansas is one of the nicest cities in the country, amazing neighborhoods and great schools.

        I wish someone from the Kansas/Missouri Department of Tourism paid me for this

      • You are right about one thing – you are confused.

        SKC have Besler making 650k, Zusi making 650k, Espinoza making 750k, Dwyer making 400k and Feilhaber making 350k.

        RBNY have BWP at 600k and Kljestian makes 400k. No one else on RBNY makes over 220 and most are making at or near the league minimum of 60k. This for a team in by far the biggest market in the country. What a joke.

      • 1 more player doesn’t carry the team as much as better quality from the other 7 starting players. I still maintain to increase quality of the on field product MLS must: raise salary cap to $5 milion at least, limit DPs to 3, and create homegrown exceptions for 1 or 2 players so you can pay the players you develop DP salaries without having it impact your cap. I looked at the publicly available numbers last year and all but 2/3 teams can do that and still make money. Btw, how on earth is Bradley making that much more than CD? Are you kidding me?

        On a side note, as I stated before, Jozy is not making as much money as people think he is. His salary seems to be on par with what he was making at Sunderland (which isn’t big by EPL standards). Forwards tend to get paid more. So, had he gone to France (which Sunderland was not gong to do since they owned his rights), odds are he would have made 2-3 million (and I think fond his level — maybe Germany).

      • Well we don’t know if a French team would have offered him 2-3 million. Also that’s still 2 million less than he makes now. Easy for you to turn down 2 million bucks isn’t it?!

      • poor argument slowleftarm….are you implying that because toronto (4th place), los angeles (5th place), nycfc (9th place) have multiple players in the top 20 that they care more about winning, despite not doing actually doing it?

        besides an uncorrelated argument, it takes away from the “smaller” teams like DC, Columbus, Dallas that only have one player on the list.

      • Look at the full list instead of the above list of 21 players. See my comment above about RBNY’s overall cheapness. And yes trying to win and doing it are not always the same thing. Preferably, we would have both!

      • In addition to KC (7th in the table), DC (1) and FC Dallas (4) also have no million dollar players.

        On another note, 10 points separates the top 10 teams.

      • Ok but LA have spent more on players than anyone and here’s what they’ve done recently:

        2009 – lose MLS cup on penalties
        2010 – win SS
        2011 – win SS and MLS cup
        2012 – win MLS cup
        2014 – win MLS cup

        So apparently spending money to get good players does help.

    • As of three days ago when Dos Santos signed:

      Top 20 Player Earnings
      Team $ Spent in M # of Players
      Toronto $19.56 4
      LA Galaxy $16.55 4
      NYCFC $13.92 3
      Seattle $7.60 2
      Orlando City $7.16 1
      NE Revolution $3.05 1
      Chicago Fire $1.58 1
      Vancouver $1.41 1
      Colorado Rapids $1.17 1
      Columbus Crew $1.17 1
      SJ Earthquakes $1.04 1


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