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Americans lag in pay among highest-paid players
by Paul Kennedy, May 6th, 2013 9:57PM

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TAGS:  mls, soccer business

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[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Americans lag behind their foreign counterparts among the highest-paid players in MLS. Of the 21 MLS players called up for the U.S. national team this year, only four make more than $300,000 in guaranteed compensation -- and three make less than $100,000 a year. And of the 42 MLS players making $300,000 or more, just 12 are Americans, and of the 105 players making $200,000 or more, only 39 are Americans.

(Click here for the MLS Players Union's annual listing of salary information for all MLS players.)

The MLS players seeing the most action -- Omar Gonzalez ($282,000) and Graham Zusi ($173,813) -- on Jurgen Klinsmann's national team are both bargains though their low salaries mean they'll likely bolt their MLS clubs when their current contracts expire.

MLS's reluctance to break its salary structure means that most top Americans will move to a foreign club before they accept the top money paid by MLS clubs.

Only two Americans -- Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski -- earn more than $400,000 a year in guaranteed compensation.

Even when you throw in Wondo at $600,000 a year, the five MLS forwards Klinsmann called into the January camp make less combined than Dutch forward Danny Koevermans, who has yet to play a game this year for Toronto FC but earns $1,633,323.

Many of the Americans earning between $300,000 and $400,000 are veterans who have returned from abroad or whose chances of moving abroad have passed.

The real bargain in MLS is San Jose Earthquakes defender Steven Beitashour, who will make only $49,612 in 2013 (up from 44,100 in 2012 and $42,000 in 2011).

Other U.S. national team players earning less than six figures are D.C. United keeper Bill Hamid ($89,750) and second-year New York Red Bulls homegrown player Connor Lade ($59,213).

U.S. national team:
GOALKEEPERS:
$198,500 Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo)
$89,750 Bill Hamid (D.C. United)
$153,000 Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)

DEFENDERS:
$49,612 Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes)
$166,800 Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake)
$180,000 Matt Besler (Sporting KC)
$142,500 A.J. DeLaGarza (LA Galaxy)
$282,000 Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
$59,213 Connor Lade (New York Red Bulls)
$139,563 Justin Morrow (San Jose Earthquakes)
$216,500 Jeff Parke (Philadelphia Union)

MIDFIELDERS:
$311,250 Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
$372,063 Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo)
$181,046 Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders)
$312,188 Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC)
$173,813 Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

FORWARDS:
$175,000 Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA)
$165,000 Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo)
$275,000 Edson Buddle (Colorado Rapids)
$156,333 Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)
$600,000 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Note: 2013 guaranteed compensation of MLS players called into U.S. national team in 2013.



24 comments
  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 12:10 p.m.
    Hey Paul...what's the point? To be brutally honest, the pay scale and base salary for "American" players in the MLS should be between 35.000 and 100.000 tops with the exception of "only" Donovan...by far above and beyond the rest! College players making 60+? Are we kidding? What about Zardes...100.000? I know the player personally...what justifies this salary? His production in the "College Game?" Yes, Gyasi hit the back of the net 16x4(approximately) which is great...but it's College Soccer...3 month seasons! Please. Minimal Base Salaries with "Win Bonuses" will get these players financially stable...but they need to play for it...AS THE REST OF THE WORLD IS DOING! I have numerous PA data. Our Americans simply do not justify their salaries!

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.
    Oh, 600.000? Base Salary for Wondo? I spit my entire coffee out of my mouth when I saw this...with all do respect to the player!

  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 12:36 p.m.
    Ok this makes total financial sense now. So you spend in the neihgberhood of $10000 a year in your kids soccer related club setting, for say 8 years, than most likely you ain't good to be pro, so you get a half-*ss scholarship to some college, if your lucky. So after 4 years of soccer in college, you might be the lucky one the get drafted and earn $35,000 dollars.... mmh, very rewarding.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.
    Arsenal Fan...College players are worth the MINIMUM WAGE!!! Period! No more! How do you justify the level of college players? What are the academies producing? We are not in Baseball, Football and Basketball where the economics are night and day compared to Soccer! The MLS Americans are on par with the USL and NASL in terms of level and should be compensated accordingly. The issue is that the MLS is trying to be "Major League" and to be honest, every MLS Club would struggle in 2nd let alone 3rd divisions around the world! If one thinks different he/she is "WAY OUT TO LUNCH!" UP THE GUNNERS!

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 1:12 p.m.
    American players within the MLS, USL and NASL are completely equal in terms of quality (there are numerous players in the NASL and USL who could and should swap with MLS Ameicans) as the Wages paid in the NASL and USL are realistic with Professional Soccer in the United States. Where the focus needs to fall is "COMBINING" ALL 3 LEAGUES! Everything, I mean all discussions is a waste of time! Soccer in America is really not that serious!

  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.
    Was just tryng to be a little sarcastic Peter, Yes I understand that we don't have a system structured to produce top quality soccer players. But this is the BS they feed parents around the USA to keep forking out this type of money, year after year. My suggestion, If you are athletic and live in the USA, stick to our mayor sports: Baseball, Basketball, and Football. You will make alot more money if you are at the top of the sport.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 3:19 p.m.
    Hey Arsenal Fan: Here's one for you..."What type of "dressing room flooring" were at Highbury? If you answer that one...I'll take you out for a meal in LA. Yes you are absolutely correct! All of this "yahoo" stuff that is being advertised is just that..."Yahoo!" Was at the USSDA pitches this weekend where supposedly MLS is developing...for the college game...because these kids, coaches, administrators at the u-15-18 Level are NO WHERE NEAR THE LEVEL. So maybe that's what they want? MLS Professional Football Economics in the United States will struggle shortly...the "WELL" will dry out unless drastic changes are made and a "MARKET" of commodities (players) is created. Ok...Arsenal Fan: Want to watch a "Hell of a match?" Greek Cup Final! Sunday 5.11.13 Olympiakos v Asteras Tripolis Venue: Athens Olympic Stadium Sold Out 80.000 Compare the MLS! Not in our dreams!

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 3:59 p.m.
    Just saw this..."Other U.S. national team players earning less than six figures" What...should they be at six figures and above? I am fair...believe me...US Internationals who "deserve" 6 figures can be counted on 2 hands maybe 3 and they are playing in Europe!

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 5:05 p.m.
    Peter, if MX teams are paying so much more money for "Homegrown" talent well then MLS should try to match it instead of paying so much for "has beens" . It comes down to making a choice. The $$ is going to go somewhere regardless of what you and me think. So if it's going to a 37+ year old that could really care less about winning as much as he once did then why not try and keep these players that are seeing success in Mexico?? Xolos from Tijuana are having great success with our players as is Monterey, Santos and tigres. Lets not forget Chivas.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.
    I know for one that $50,000 a year for soccer is not worth passing up a scholarshiped college career or $100,000 in another country. Fact is MLS is keeping the "Homegrowns" that wont get better offers abroad. Thats why new talent in MLS is nonexistent. In Mexico they are getting the press, ackowledement and credebility, - as far as level of play and compensation. Way too many Hispanos leaving to MX to nopt notice.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 5:17 p.m.
    Arsenal, success in a sport isnt just to stick to what makes you money like you say in USA. Its just about being informed. There are plenty of young talent going out to MX, regularly now. They would be future stars in the less competitive MLS as Homegrown but MLS doesnt want to make this investment. They would rather attract fans with foreign "has been big names" that people complain more about than support. The MLS rules for Homegrowns make little sense to me. If you are a top talent you are better off staying away from an MLS Academy so you dont give them right s to you when you decide to come back to MLS and retire. You are better off, if you can, leaving to Mexico at 16, get signed there and get paid as designated player in MLS. That's just plain dumb if you are the MLS.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 5:20 p.m.
    Peter, actually you can easily make 6 figures just south of the border. High quality league, MX.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 7:50 p.m.
    Que dice Paisa? I know exactly what you mean! It's a mess...they better be careful...there's only so much money that grows on trees!:)

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 7, 2013 at 7:51 p.m.
    Hey Arsenal Fan...you have not responded...regarding the "dressing room floor!"

  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: May 8, 2013 at 10:18 a.m.
    Sorry Peter, afternoons are set aside to taxi my kids around for their different activities. I don't get the question? Anyways after googling it, it looks like white tile, and accoriding to whoever wrote the article it had some heating system so feet would not be freezing. Luis, sooner or later you got to make a living, even in footballing countries few make it pro, and of those that make it pro, not many make alot of money.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 8, 2013 at 8:06 p.m.
    Hey Arsenal Fan...you are "soooooooooo" close...not tile though! Keep searching!:)

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 8, 2013 at 8:10 p.m.
    Hey Arsenal Fan...what State are you in? Friends of mine across the globe are inquiring...they can't believe that they charge the kids to play...please let me know!

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: May 9, 2013 at 10:43 a.m.
    Most top MLS players will not move overseas...not enough technical skills and soccer IQ in most cases.

  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: May 9, 2013 at 3:23 p.m.
    Peter, Im located in California. Around the area club fees plus tourney fees average about $1200 a year. The most expensive part is the traveling. In my area we have to travel alot to most tourneys and league games, so traveling expenses are about $6000, and thats being cheap. To be honest, he is playing and we are paying that type of money because we love the game and he wants to compete at highest level in the area. I never really thought about taking my kid to a club so he could be developed, just to play the game, he happened to land in a team with extremely talented kids and many of them, including my son have been identified to local, state, and national ID camps. At that point I realized that he had some type of potential that needed to be developed, still looking.....

  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: May 9, 2013 at 3:35 p.m.
    Peter, there are clubs that don't charge the talented kids that can't afford it, in order to have better teams, but that does not mean they are developing them. Most skilled kids that i know play the game every day. Club, Mexican leagues, indoor, futsal, etc, etc. Not really anywhere you can take them for qualified coaching and training on a daily basis. First time I joined a club and found out they only trained 2 a week i thought they were kidding, hell my first sports were baseball and basketball, we used to train almost daily.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: May 10, 2013 at 12:02 p.m.
    I understand you Arsenal Fan. What club are you with? Academy? Let me know we can meet up. The US domestic structure and the belief system is what it is. "Training, training and more training" The Leagues are soft, "beginning with the MLS" by not providing consequences to the last place teams of a division and "Prize" for the lower division clubs which equals "promotion!" All the training in the world even in an "average to bad" USSDA will not maximize our youth's potential. This is the problem. MLS, USL and NASL Head Coaches do not believe in the 17 year old...for the most part. They don't have the experience to understand the Physical, Mental, Pshyc, and Tech contrary to the rest of the world. But also, the USSDA cannot prepare a young player for the "jump!" Anyone can see this. So, in the meantime, sending our kids to College makes absolute sense. Want to get a good look at the level of the American 17-18 year old? Tune in to the U-20 Youth World Cup. Ok Arsenal Fan, let me know your kids playing schedule...please!

  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: May 10, 2013 at 2:58 p.m.
    Peter, here is my email where you can contact me arsenalfan4816@yahoo.com.

  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: May 10, 2013 at 3:23 p.m.
    Peter, Yes, me son most likely wil be playing the U15/16 Academy this year. We just had an ex player from our academy drafted by pro team, and let go quickly, some MLS team don't take draft very serioulsly as you mentioned above.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: May 10, 2013 at 6:56 p.m.
    Peter, actually looking at the U20's is deceiving because some of those USA U20's have developed nicely in Mexico league, a very good league by the way and one of the best development leagues in the world right now!! I am willing to bet that those few players will look good out there just like thos Mexico teams are doing.


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