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Chicharito, Higuain, Vela top the list of highest MLS salaries


The MLS Players Union released the salaries of every player in the league on Wednesday, with Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Gonzalo Higuain, and Carlos Vela headlining the list.

Vela is MLS’s highest-paid player, currently earning $6.3 million for Bob Bradley’s side. The 32-year-old has scored five goals and registered four assists in 17 league appearances so far during an injury-hit 2021 season.

LA Galaxy Ω Chicharito is a close second and is set to earn $6 million this season. Hernandez leads the Galaxy with 13 goals in 18 league appearances this season, also missing time due to injury.

Former Juventus striker Higuain occupies third place behind the Los Angeles forwards, earning close to $5.8 million (5,793,750.00). Alejandro Pozuelo, the 2020 MLS MVP, features in fourth on the list with a salary of just under $4.7 million (4,693,000.00)

Atlanta United tandem Luiz Araujo and Josef Martinez sit fifth and sixth in the list, both earning just under $4 million each, Jozy Altidore, Rodolfo Pizzaro, Maxi Moralez and Victor Wanyama complete the top 10 earners in MLS, underscoring the emphasis on securing premier attacking talents. Beyond Wanyama and Araujo, the league’s top 10 earners all operate in the final third, be it as strikers or as attacking midfielders.

There are currently 81 players in Major League Soccer making seven figures or more, a growth of nine more than 2020. Jozy Altidore remains the highest-paid American for another season and is set to earn more than $3.6 million ($3,602,250.00).

Both Inter Miami and Atlanta United each has two players apiece making more than $3 million this season. DJ Taylor, Ifunanyachi Achara, and Josh Atencio are among some of the surprising names in MLS making less than $100,000 during the 2021 campaign.

Here is a rundown of the highest-paid players in MLS:

Top 20 Highest Paid MLS Players

1. Carlos Vela, LAFC, $6.3 million

2. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, LA Galaxy, $6 million

3. Gonzalo Higuain, Inter Miami FC, $5,793,750.00

4. Alejandro Pozuelo, Toronto FC, $4,693,000.00

5. Luiz Araujo, Atlanta United, $3,941,67.00

6. Josef Martinez, Atlanta United, $3,891,667.00

7. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC, $3,602,250.00

8. Rodolfo Pizarro, Inter Miami Rodolfo, $3,350,000.00

9. Maxi Moralez New York City FC, $3,285,000.00

10. Victor Wanyama, CF Montreal, $3,091,667.00

11. Carles Gil, New England Revolution, $3,045,833.00

12. Franco Jara, FC Dallas, $2,977,000.00

13. Nicolas Lodeiro, Seattle Sounders FC, $2,736,667.00

14. Robert Beric, Chicago Fire, $2,703,164.00.

15. Sebastian Driussi, Austin FC, $2,688,420.00

16. Adrien Hunou, Minnesota United, $2,587,702.00

17. Luis Nani, Orlando City, $2,486,250.00

18. Gaston Gimenez, Chicago Fire, $2,358,667.00

19. Ezequiel Barco, Atlanta United, $2,358,333.00

20. Albert Rusnak, Real Salt Lake, $2,351,667.00

Here is the full list of MLS salaries. What do you think of the salaries? Who do you see being the best bargain? Who do you think is the most overpaid player?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I agree with @Johnnyrazor that Tajon Buchanan is the most underpaid on the list. Some others that jumped out at me: Canada internationals Alistair Johnston (73K) & Kamal Miller (85K); USMNT fringe players Daryl Dike (128K), Cole Bassett (119K), Chase Gasper (81K), Henry Kessler (115K), Hassani Dotson (81K), Justin Che (84K); El Salvador starter Alex Roldan (93K); Mexico international David Ochoa (90K); Haiti international and MLS Cup goal scorer Derrick Etienne (125K). Also aging Fredy Montero (81K), and promising youngsters Moses Nyeman (85K) & John Tolkin (86K). Most all of these guys will be getting big raises in the next year or two.

    • Many of they guys you list are playing out rookie deals or home grown deals. Few if any of them were proven players when they signed those deals (which are usually 2 or 3 year contracts), and unlike other leagues, MLS rarely if ever re-negotiates a deal to reward performance. MLS will squeez every last minute of inexpensive play they can get from a young player, even if it means losing them at the end of their first deal, rather than re-negotiate a contract that has years left on it.

  2. At $100,000 DCU scored BIG on their gamble to re-sign Andy Najar. His recovery from injury went better than anyone seems to have expected. He is one of the major reasons for the success they have had this season.

  3. I don’t follow this closely, but it looks a lot more balanced than it used to be. I never understood why you would want a $5MM “DP” surrounded by a team of $100K players, when you could divide the DP’s salary up and have a field full of $500K players. The only good explanation was that the objective was to get stars to fill the stands, not necessarily to build good teams.
    And then there were so many DP disappointments (partly because their teammates couldn’t capitalize on their skill), and so much disrespect from the “retirement league” label. I’m glad they’ve found a way to build up the middle of the salary chart. I really don’t want to see another European 35-year-old come over here and trot around the field for all of that money.
    A quick google search puts the non-DP average well above the English Championship average salary — that’s pretty encouraging, I think. Pretty sure it used to be lower.

    • The reason was because the owners that didn’t want to/couldn’t afford to pay for the 5 mil DP wanted the rest of said DPs team to be weak enough that they still had a chance to beat them. If they’d let teams with money to spend be teams with ten 500,000 players they would have crushed the “economical” owners teams.

      • The way around that is you allow the teams that don’t want to spend to sell their DP slots…for cash, to teams that want to spend.
        That way the big spenders are paying the salaries of the teams that want to stay frugal…assume a DP slot goes for, say, two million a year, if a “frugal” team decides to sell all three they’d still have six million extra in cap space…paid for by the bigger fish.
        It’d make everybody’s rosters a lot better, and let the more open-pocketed owners finance the tightwads. And I honestly have no idea which kind of roster would end up being the more successful because a well-run tightwad squad with no DP’s that had a roster of 24 $200K-or-so guys could be very, very solid.

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