Top Stories

TFC tandem Giovinco, Bradley top MLS 2018 salary list


Toronto FC became the toast of MLS in 2017, and the Canadian club remains the toast of the league in 2018 when it comes to salary numbers.

The MLS Players Union released the 2018 salary figures Thursday afternoon, with the Toronto FC duo of Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco topping the list.

Giovinco is making a guaranteed $7.1 million while Bradley is just behind him at $6.5 million. Kaka of Orlando City had been the league’s top earner in previous seasons the past four seasons before retiring after the 2017 season.

The other players at the top are all recognizable Designated Players such as LAFC’s Carlos Vela, the Chicago Fire’s Bastian Schweinsteiger and Giovani Dos Santos from LA Galaxy. The latter three players are all earning just over $6 million in total compensation.

Just outside the top five you see NYCFC’s David Villa at $5.6 million, TFC’s Jozy Altidore at $5 million and Montreal Impact’s highest earner, Ignacio Piatti at just over $4.7 million.

Other new players of note are Minnesota United’s Darwin Quintero at $1.65 million and LA Galaxy’s Jonathan Dos Santos at $2 million.

Newcomer Los Angeles FC has Vela at a high number and is also spending $1,052,000 on forward Diego Rossi.

Across town, LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is earning an even $1.5 million while his teammate Romain Alessandrini is just over $1.8 million. Ibrahimovic is only the fourth-highest paid player on his team.

When looking at the list, the reigning champs, Toronto FC, have three of the highest earners in MLS with Giovinco, Bradley and Altidore in the top seven.

With the potential addition of Wayne Rooney to D.C. United, it will be interesting to see how much the forward will earn because their highest earner is currently Zoltan Stieber at just under $1 million.

In 2015, there were 21 players making $1 million or more. Now in 2018, that number has more than doubled to 46 players with the influx of Targeted Allocation Money allowing teams to target more players in the seven-figure range.

What do you think of the salaries? Who do you see being the best bargain? How about the worst bargain?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. “With the potential addition of Wayne Rooney to D.C. United, it will be interesting to see how much the forward will earn because their highest earner is currently Zoltan Stieber at just under $1 million.”

    interesting, indeed. they just ponied up for a shiny new stadium, will they pony up for a good player?

  2. Interestingly NYCFC has 13 players earning $250,000 or over and average $509,600 for the roster while the
    Red Bull have 7, $244,100
    Toronto 9, $809,700
    Sporting KC 11, $315,200
    Seattle 12, $361,800
    Philly 8, $314,500
    RSL 11, $274,300
    Orlando 9, $283,800
    LAFC 10, $402,000
    LA Galaxy 11, $548,100
    Columbus 7, $245,600
    Fire 8, $470,200
    Then I got bored with counting.
    Historically Seattle has done well with a high average salary .
    Toronto is clearly at the top of the salary range and their 2017 success is a likely consequence of that.
    While I did not check every team, the NY Red Bull had the lowest average salary (and I am sure the youngest squad). Yet they won the supporters shield 2 years ago and made it to the semis of the CCL this year where they out-played their opponents, but lost. It is an interesting experiment Marsch and the Red Bull have going.

  3. Don:

    Just looking at the 2018 stats (incomplete picture) and the 2017 stats (more accurate), I see players such as Kljestan (who makes just over a million) making a lot less but having a much greatest statistical impact. I will concede that it may be harder to quantify the “dirty work” that Bradley does as a DM, it’s pretty straight forward with Jozy. In 2017 Jozy had 15 goals and 6 assists last year, while Sasha had 17 assists and 2 goals. Those are statistically equivalent seasons in my book. But Jozy is making 5 times more. Another example is Ola Kamara who was making $850k last season but scored 18 goals.

    I’m not saying Jozy is bad or didn’t contribute to TFC’s great season, just that he’s getting paid a lot more than someone with similar stats.

  4. Like many other SBI posters, I continue to be baffled by Bradley and Jozy’s salaries. I guess they cashed in at the height of their game/popularity. Their next contracts won’t be nearly as rich as these. But clubs obviously see metrics that fans don’t have at their disposals. I just hope they both have sound wealth managers…

    GDS is so overpaid, he should be ashamed to even practice on the same team as Zlatan. I’m sure Z is getting compensated in ancillary ways (not to mention making the rounds of all the talk shows to expand his brand beyond soccer fans), but that $1.5M is almost comical.

    Foreign DP’s will continue to be crap shoots, I guess that makes MLS no different than other leagues who sometimes end up overpaying for a player past his prime. But for every Pirlo, you have a Villa. Most of us are on board with MLS 3.0’s approach of bringing in young talent, rather than Wayne Rooney.

    The one trend I’m excited about is that the number of players earning over $1million has more than doubled in the past 3 years. But the league minimum is still incredibly low at $54,500. That’s gotta change at a much faster rate to make MLS a more attractive option for American players who may not quite be ready for Europe but feel they have to make take the better money even if it means less playing time.

    • a) bradley and jozy have been key players in transforming toronto from a laughingstock into arguably the greatest mls team ever

      b) they’re the face of u.s. soccer (for better or worse), and at the time of their contracts, i don’t think anyone saw them not making it to the world cup

      c) as you said, they both cashed in at the right time

      for all those reasons, i don’t toronto has any regrets; it was good business.

      • ND: Agree on (b) and c, but I think (a) is more of a mixed result. I’m not a rabid Bradley and Jozy hater, and they certainly are impact player in MLS and with TFC. But when you compare their contribution to other similar players are making $1M or less, then you start to realize they are overpaid.

      • Frenchie – If you think there are players in playing similar positions in MLS making less than 1mil with similar production as Jozy and MB, then you are drastically underrating those guys.

    • “But the league minimum is still incredibly low at $54,500.”

      a man can live on 54k, yes? so i think it’s enough to be the minimum wage.

      the problem was that a few salary negotiations ago, you had mls players making 19k and working part time jobs at night or whatever just to live. embarrassing to the league and not professional at all!

      but i think 54k is Okay.

      but you think we are losing good young players because 54k is not high enough?

  5. “the other players at the top are all recognizable”

    What the heck…..these are the most valued players in our nations league. recognizable to those reading a soccer blog…you don’t say

  6. Gio dos Santos is way overpaid IMO. I think his brother, who gets considerably less, is a better player. . Not mentioned is Wright Phillips. Don’t know what he’s getting this season, but last year he got around 900k. He started out with the Red Bulls at around 85 k. Given his productivity, he’s been a real bargain. I’m surprised that Quintero isn’t getting more. I think Vela, who is worth about one and a half dos Santos brothers, is about right. I’ll let others denounce Bradley. Ibrahimovic is a steal. He’ll probably pay for his salary through increased ticket sales and the sale of jerseys, never mind what he does on the field. Valeri isn’t mentioned, but whatever he’s getting, it isn’t too much. Finally, MLS can start to be truly competitive when every team has 11 starters who make at least $1 million per season.


Leave a Comment