Every now and then the MLS Players Union releases the information on what kind of salaries players are making. Today we got a look at the September update on the salary figuresand the numbers for Toronto FC are almost certain to cause some conversations and maybe even some confusion among the fans. TFC are currently sitting just off the bottom of the league table and despite being an improved team in the second half of the season thanks to signings and trades it might come as a surprise to many fans that they currently have 3 of the MLS' million dollar men. There are only a select few players in the MLS who are set to make more then a million dollars in salary this season and they are basically the ones you would have expected
David Beckham of LA Galaxy is set to make $6,500,000.04
Rafael Marquez of New York Red Bulls: $4,600,000.00
Robbie Keane of LA Galaxy: $3,417,243.15
Landon Donovan of LA Galaxy: $2,300,000.00
Julian de Guzman of Toronto FC: $1,910,746.00
Danny Koevermans of Toronto FC: $1,413,319.33
Juan Pablo Angel of Chivas USA: $1,250,000.00
Torsten Frings of Toronto FC: $1,113,662.67
So this season there are 9 players in line to reach that magic million dollar mark and if you look at that list the one name that seems to be out of place is Julian De Guzman. I am not one who hates on JDG and maybe he is now starting to show his value for TFC with a few really good performances and some goals of late but the fact of the matter is that he is not a world class name like most of the other players on this list. Along with JDG the other name I would be the most critical of on that list is Juan Pablo Angel who has never really looked good value for the money that LA decided to spend on him. Speaking of LA they are the only other club in the MLS to have 3 DP's on their team that are making over 1 million this year and they are widely considered as a favourite for the MLS cup. TFC has 3 and they are widely considered as one of the worst teams in the league.
So its not that Toronto are not going out and spending the money, they clearly are with 3 such large investments, but the results are not there to match the spending. There is always a risk with spending such large amounts of money that the player will not prove to be good value but the pressure is even more intense when you are 1 of only 9 players making over 1 million. In a league that does not seem to have money to just throw around, unless you are LA, the expectations are understandably high for all of these players. I feel that Toronto FC fans would be justified to expect their 3 million dollar men to play at an all star level each season and of late they seem to actually be doing that.
Other talking points for the numbers released today include the fact that Frings is not the highest paid players on TFC. I am sure that his age might have had something to do with the figure he signed for but the fact of the matter is that he is a former German international and still the best player at the club so I think getting him at only 1.1 million is a bit of a steal for Toronto. I am not sure what his contract, and that of Danny K, look like for the coming years but if they both stay around that range they look like they might just be really good in terms of value for money. I would rather have either of them instead of Angel or even Marquez with his giant salary. I almost feel bad for the fans of New York who are stuck with footing the bill for their club throwing out all kinds of crazy money on Marquez.
Now to look at the rest of the notable numbers that TFC is paying players. The following players are all set to make over $100,000 this season (not including the million dollar men)
Stefan Frei: $155,000.00
Eric Avila: $133,000.00
Adrian Cann: $132,746.00
Ryan Johnson: $131,250.00
Peri Marosevic: $129,000.00
Eddy Viator: $101,875.00
Dasan Robinson: $100,000.00
So that is another 7 players on TFC who make over 100k and most of them are new additions to the team from all the trades. A few things about this group that stuck out to me are the fact that Frei is only making 155K and is in my opinion a top class keeper. I would imagine that in the near future if TFC are not able to pay Frei more then that he will have to move to a club that will do so. Eddy Viator and Dasan Robinson have made 3 and 0 appearances respectively this season for Toronto FC and are probably the two most over paid players on the roster.
I won't fault TFC for Robinson's making so much money since he came over in a trade and they did not sign him to that large contract. Viator on the other hand just does not make any sense to me. TFC signed him as a free agent so that number is all their doing and he has been pretty much useless to the club since joining. His introduction was one of the teams moves that I was not a fan of an now seeing how much he is making it is even worse. Adrian Cann has really shown his value this season and why he is worth the salary he is making in the fact that his absence has been so painful for the TFC back line who have allowed goals like crazy without him.
Looking at the salaries Toronto are paying players I have noticed one distinct trend. They are spending a lot more on attackers and midfielders then they are on defenders. All three of the million dollar men are attackers or midfielders, well Frings has spent time in the back line even if it is not his natural position. Then of the next group you have the two defenders who never play, Robinson and Viator along with the injured Cann and goal keeper Frei who represent the biggest investments in the back end. So even where they have made larger investments in trying to improve the defence they are making little difference this season other then Frei who when he is in the lineup is consistently one of the teams best players.
Avila, Johnson, and Marosevic are three more attackers who the club has made a large investment in and they all have the potential to be very good MLS players which in my opinion makes them all worth the investment. So it is safe to say that there are some names and numbers in TFC's 10 highest paid players that fans might take some issues with but there are also some good investments that will hopefully make the club better in the long run.
It is interesting to see the numbers that people in the MLS are making and just looking over the list for the whole league several things have struck me and that is what I will leave you with.
Players making only $32,604.00 seems crazy for a professional athlete. That really is not much for someone who is then expected to live in an expensive city like Toronto
Toronto FC are spending the kind of money that the top teams are spending. So there is no excuse, they just need to get a return on that investment
Vancouver has no players making over 1 million and 10 making over 100k which is similar to TFC without the top end salaries
MLS teams seem to be spending more on salaries now then they did only a couple of seasons ago which hopefully will lead to continued improvement in the quality of players and not just an inflation of wages for the same talent