Last week, Business of Soccer released an overview of the latest MLS Player Union salary data. Of approximately 550 players on league payroll, 12 of them are estimated to make over a million dollars this season, further analyzed in the Millionaire List, below:
Player performance aside, the analysis above is an indication of the disparity that exists in the league today. Four of the six teams on the Millionaire List have over 70% of total payroll dedicated to 2-3 players. The above is a well-known condition to those familiar with MLS, but nevertheless eye-opening; at some clubs, 90% of players chase 25% of payroll dollars.
From a performance aspect, the season is still young, but a couple of noteworthy trends prevail from gameplay statistics that will help better gauge the Millionaire List. Note that stats are provided by ESPN as of May 9, 2014, and therefore do not include this past weekend’s results.
True to his spot on the list is Clint Dempsey. As of Friday night, Dempsey led MLS in scoring with eight goals and two assists. Also contributing to Seattle’s attack and the list above is Obafemi Martins, who leads the league in assists (six) with four goals to match. Based on the numbers, as well as the Sounders’ top spot in the classification, Dempsey and Martins complement each other well, and are a good indication of smart spending in Seattle.
The Millionaire List will become progressively interesting as the season develops. One might argue that Toronto and the Los Angeles Galaxy have yet to see their investments pay-off. However, with a few games in-hand, a couple of victories would project them towards the top of the table. It’s too soon to tell.
For Toronto FC, Michael Bradley has a goal to his name and was recognized as NBC Sports’ Player of the Month for March. His man up top, fellow summer-splurge Jermaine Defoe, has three tallies. Also on the list for Toronto is striker Gilberto Junior, with one assist. Robbie Keane had four goals and an assist for the Galaxy as of Friday, while Donovan is yet to score but has two assists. Rounding out the top half of the list is Red Bulls Captain, Thierry Henry, with three goals and two assists. Vancouver’s Pedro Morales, former Malaga midfielder, is level on points with Henry, with three goals and two assists.
ESPN currently includes on their MLS Top Goal Scorers list players with three or more goals to their name. As of Friday, these 27 individuals had a collective 114 goals this season. Six of them are on the Millionaire List accounting for 25 goals, or 22% of the leaderboard. The remaining 89 goals (78%) are accounted for by 21 players not on the millionaire list.