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Shuffling salaries for new strikers
by Ridge Mahoney, February 28th, 2008 10AM

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For MLS coaches, like the rest of us, much of life is one deadline after another. Next up is the date by which teams must be complaint with the salary cap, precise figure unknown, and the limits for the regular (18 players) and full (28) roster limits.

Teams must be compliant by Monday, meaning deals for strikers such as Claudio Lopez, negotiating with Kansas City, Reinaldo Navia (FC Dallas), and the other Reinaldo (Colorado), would ideally be completed in time to make adjustments to salaries and rosters.

Teams can bargain for additional time to reach compliance, but by Monday's deadline they must have informed MLS as to how they plan to get their numbers in order.

In the case of the Argentine veteran Lopez, sources are estimating his probable salary as between $750,000 and $1.2 million. That's quite a spread and at the lower end is a figure Kansas City might be able to manage without using the Designated Player option, since it has a lot of allocation money in hand as its share of the Eddie Johnson transfer.

But Coach Curt Onalfo has been given the green light to use the DP option if he so wishes and thus, money may not be the determining factor.

Still, since a DP counts $400,000 against the cap, it would be nice to know ASAP if that huge chunk is in the mix. Yet it's not that much more than Johnson's max-cap hit of last year ($325,000), and the Wizards have already unloaded the six-figure salaries of Nick Garcia ($131,250) and Jose Burciaga ($100,000), so KC appears to be in good stead.

As Dallas negotiates with the Chilean Navia, a possible replacement for Carlos Ruiz, it also must deal with the unsettled status of Roberto Mina, who earned $80,000 last season while on loan. Negotiations to sign him to a regular contract have floundered and so he may not be on FCD's roster this season.

In one aspect, FCD is in the same situation as Kansas City: it has lost a high-priced player (Ruiz), so in effect is merely using that slot to, perhaps, accommodate another of the same ilk. FCD also had to wedge DP Denilson under the salary cap and even though it got a half-price discount ($200,000) against the cap because he came to MLS with only half-a-season's salary guaranteed ($400,000 for the rest of the 2007 season), it has enough room for Navia if the parties can agree to terms. Dallas leaves Friday for a two-week stay in Brazil.

By trading Nicolas Hernandez ($130,000) to Columbus and in return getting Tim Ward, a Generation Adidas player who doesn't count against the salary cap, Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo may have cleared enough space to acquire Brazilian striker Reinaldo from Australian League club Queensland Roar. Reinaldo, whose contract expires in May, is supposedly available for about $350,000 (salary plus transfer fee).

Colorado has first shot at Reinaldo, having filed a discovery claim on him before any other team. Real Salt Lake could have used an allocation to leapfrog ahead of the Rapids, since in the hierarchy of MLS mechanisms allocations trump discoveries, but instead has signed Scottish striker Kenny Deuchar.

Both Real Salt Lake and Colorado are headed overseas as well. The Rapids left Thursday for London and a stint at Arsenal, RSL is off to Argentina on Friday.

 



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