MLS Compensation Levels Hit Record Highs

On April 10, 2014, the Major League Soccer Players Union released the latest semi-annual salary data for all MLS players.  Overall, the data shows that MLS payroll is at an all-time high, with the highest average compensation level since salary data became publicly available.

Note that all player salaries are broken down into two numbers: current base salary and annual average guaranteed compensation.   The latter includes a player’s base salary and all signing and guaranteed bonuses annualized over the term of the player’s contract, including option years.  Per the Players Union, the average annual guaranteed compensation number also includes any annual marketing bonus to be received in the current year and any agent’s fees annualized over the term of the contract. Not included within this number are performance bonuses given the unpredictability of the milestone achievement.  These figures include compensation from each player’s contract with MLS.  They do not include any compensation from any contracts with individual teams or their affiliates.  The data below reflects annual average guaranteed compensation.

Guaranteed Comp

Salary data from MLSPU. Analysis by Business of Soccer.

The most notable fluctuation since September’s data release reflects Toronto’s addition of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Defoe, which consequently moves Toronto to the highest payroll in the league, up from the middle of the table in the fall of 2013.  On the other hand, Chicago cut around$1.3M of their payroll, moving them from the upper to lower tiers of club payrolls.  New to the salary data (not included within the graphic) is the inclusion of Orlando City SC, the new MLS franchise, currently with 4 players signed at a collective total of approximately $250K.  The Floridian club will commence play in 2015.

Comp Summary by Team

Salary data from MLSPU. Analysis by Business of Soccer.

Major League Soccer’s total payroll is approximately $115M, up 21% from the September’s data release.  Also notable is a 26% increase in average guaranteed compensation across all players, an amount that has nearly doubled since 2007.

At a glance, all of these metrics, excluding median, represent all-time highs for Major League Soccer. This is a positive trend for the American game, assuming that higher levels of compensation will attract better players and ultimately raise the quality and profile of soccer in the United States.


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Reporting on the business side of the world's game.