The MLS Players Union released the 2017 salary information to the public earlier this week, part of a biannual tradition of providing some transparency about how much players are getting paid. While many individual players are none too pleased with having their salaries splashed around the press, the exercise overall has in all likelihood led to increased salaries for all, considering the old days when bagging groceries part time was a more lucrative job than sitting on an MLS bench.
Locally, salary information for the LA teams was revealed. For 2018 expansion team LAFC, this was the club’s first appearance in the salary figures, and two players were on the books for the team — midfielder Carlos Alvarez, who has been playing on loan all season for LAFC’s USL affiliate Orange County SC, and a second player previously unknown, Monday Bassey Etim. Listed as a midfielder, Etim is a product of the successful Montverde Academy in Florida, and on his social media claims to be an Orange County SC player, although no confirmation has yet to come on that from the team.
Obviously, LAFC don’t start play until next year, and so having just two players on payroll, presumably to reserve them for at least the start of training camp next year, is little surprise. There’s obviously much more to find in digging into the LA Galaxy’s numbers.
While some big salaries came off the books this year (notably Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard, as well as the pro-rated portion of Landon Donovan’s unretirement stint) the Galaxy added French winger Romain Alessandrini, the second-highest paid player on the team behind Giovani dos Santos at just under $2 million a year. To be fair, Alessandrini has been by far LA’s best player so far this season, so that appears to be money well spent.
In the meantime, the reported quest to shed some costs in the offseason is apparent in the numbers, as Homegrown and Galaxy II products like Hugo Arellano, Bradley Diallo, Clement Diop, Bradford Jamieson, Ariel Lassiter, Jack McBean, Raul Mendiola and Jaime Villarreal clock in between $53,000 and $67,000 each. Replacing Keane and Gerrard’s combined $9.5 million with less than $500,000 combined, across many more players, is obviously far more budget conscious.
Of course, the flip side is that Keane and Gerrard, while on ebbs and flows of form in 2016, had an established track record to command such salaries, while this cohort of academy and USL players do not. No one would expect McBean to be a $1 million player at this point in time, for example.
And while spending big is not an exact science to MLS success (there is usually at least one budget-conscious team near the top of the standings and one free spender languishing at the bottom of the table) spending more has tended to lead to more success the past five years in the league.
Based on that, the Galaxy are currently the fifth-highest spending team in the league.
For you visual folks, here are the teams with salary and compensation pic.twitter.com/0sSqLXm4Ye
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) April 25, 2017
The season is very young, of course, but the Galaxy are in second-to-last place in the Western Conference at the moment. Will the reduction in salaries portend a drop in the standings across the season? It’s far too early to tell, and salaries alone do not determine table placement. But it will certainly be an interesting storyline to follow as we go along.