The day that many of us have been waiting for, some more eagerly than others, is finally here. The MLS Players Union has provided their semi-annual release of players salary information from across the league (find them here). It lets all the fans around the league now just what their favourite players are making and is certain to strike up a lively debate about who is being over-paid and who is not getting their fair share. (For the sake of this article I will be using the 2012 guaranteed salary numbers).
On the list it is the guaranteed compensation number that matters the most since that is what will count against the league salary cap. The base salary number does not include elements of the contract like bonuses or transfer fees that have been broken up over a number of seasons.
For the Toronto FC perspective the club salary list is highlighted by the trio of designated players. Julian De Guzman ($1,910,746), Torsten Frings ($2,413,666.67), and Danny Koevermans ($1,563,323.33) are all set to once again be among the select few players in the league that are making over one million dollars. That list includes only David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, and Kris Boyd. That brings the total for this year to only 9 players and means that TFC is one of only 4 teams to have a single million dollar player. They also join the LA Galaxy as being the only team to have all three designated player slots filled by players making over one million.
After the top three on TFC there is a fairly substantial drop in salary down to the rest of the team, as you'd expect. The club has 12 players making the league minimum with 2 of them, Quilan Roberts and Efrain Borgus Jr., making the lower rate for younger players. With 28 total players on the list from TFC that means the remaining 13 players are making somewhere between that 44k league minimum and the $390,000 that Richard Eckersley is earning this year.
From even a quick look at the numbers it is clear that the club was not lying when they said they were basically right up against the league salary cap. With the 3 designated players counting as a cap hit of 350k each and then 8 other players cracking the 6 figure salary range that $2,810,000 salary cap gets filled up pretty fast.When you look at the list from TFC there are two numbers that stick out right away for me: $390,000 and $199,086. Those two numbers that what Richard Eckersley and Miguel Aceval are making this season and suffice to say it is a lot more than they should be valued at. I don't think you could find too many TFC fans that would argue that Aceval has been anywhere near worth the same amount of money that Andre Hainault or only $30,000 less than the injured Omar Gonzalez. Then you get to that number Eckersley is making, his base salary makes him the tenth highest paid defender across the entire league behind only Rafa Marquez, Chad Marshall Emilano Dudar, Julio Cesar, Heath Pearce, Carlos Valdes, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne and Danny Califf. He is level on pay with Chicago Fire's Gonzalo Segares but for all intents and purposes Eckersley is in the 10 highest paid defenders in the league. To make it even worse when you look at the guaranteed compensation he jumps up to second place behind only Marquez. It really does raise the question, and the answer is simple, of whether he is in the 10 best defenders in the league. For me he represents the most overpaid player on the team even with Julian De Guzman making his millions as a DP. It was never going to be possible to get Ecks to leave his much larger contract at Burnley for anything less than that so if the club was going to bring him back, that was the price they were going to have to pay, which brings up the question of should they.
For a team that has once again allowed goals at an alarming rate you would think the club had skimped on defenders. Problem is that they have not done so at all. Instead, it seems that their has been a lot of misplaced money when it comes to defenders. After Eckersley and Aceval you have Adrian Cann at $134,750, Ty Harden at $98,666, and the injured Dicoy Williams at $52,500. The remaining players; Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan, Logan Emory, and Aaron Maund, all make right around the league minimum of $44,000. Add in Jeremy Hall, who is listed as a midfielder, at $149,000 and you have a fairly expensive backline even with some bargains in there.
When TFC was playing a back four of Eckersely, Aceval, Harden, and Morgan that was a defensive unit worth just under $750k. That represents a fairly large investment for a group that does not feature a DP so you really don't even want to know what it looked like when Frings and his two million dollar contract was forced to serve as a fifth defender. Even if you only could he cap hit you now have a back line that takes up over one millon of your cap so that is a major investment with very little return.
The other numbers on the list that are worth paying special attention to are Eric Avila ($158,000), Ryan Johnson ($137,813), Nick Soolsma ($110,000), Terry Dunfield ($86,000), Reggie Lambe ($62,500), Joao Plata ($50,000), and Milos Kocic ($44,100).
Those names do not necessarily stand out because they are overpaid, Dunfield being the possible exception, but rather because they represent some of the players where TFC is getting fairly good value for their money. The fact that they still have Kocic on a league minimum deal (Stefan Frei makes $175,000) is a great value for the club but is one that will likely change prior to next season when the keeper should be up for a new contract. Both Lambe and Plata make that list because their salary numbers are actually much lower than many had speculated they might end up being.
On the whole, you have to say that Toronto FC is investing basically all the money that they can in the squad but the problem is that the investment is not translating in to results on the field. If you compare them to a team like Sporting Kansas City who have no one even making $300,000 that point becomes even more clear. Just because you spend money and make use of the entire salary cap does not mean you will be better off than the teams that spend their time looking for bargains that keep them well under the cap. It seems to be a trick that MLSE has yet to learn as they continue to show a special gift for over paying players rather than bringing in the affordable players with MLS experience that are needed to find success in this league. Just remember, only two teams have three DP's making over a million and well they are dead last in each conference.
And now, just in case you were not already sick of looking at numbers, here is the full list of what Toronto FC players are set to make this season. Who do you think is the best deal and who are the worst? (Not sure why some play from TFC and other for TOR)
Club Last Name First Name Pos 2012 Base Salary 2012 Guaranteed Compensation
TFC Avila Eric M $125,000.00 $158,000.00
TFC Cann Adrian D $126,000.00 $134,750.00
TFC Cordon Oscar M $44,000.00 $44,000.00
TFC de Guzman Julian M $1,863,996.00 $1,910,746.00
TFC Dunfield Terry M $86,000.00 $86,000.00
TFC Eckersley Richard D $210,000.00 $390,000.00
TFC Frei Stefan GK $120,000.00 $175,000.00
TFC Frings Torsten M $2,000,000.00 $2,413,666.67
TFC Hall Jeremy M $100,000.00 $149,000.00
TFC Harden Ty D $90,000.00 $98,666.67
TFC Henry Doneil D $44,100.00 $45,100.00
TFC Johnson Ryan M $137,813.00 $137,813.00
TFC Kocic Milos GK $44,100.00 $44,100.00
TFC Koevermans Danny F $1,150,000.00 $1,563,323.33
TFC Lindsay Nicholas F $44,100.00 $45,100.00
TFC Makubuya Keith F $44,000.00 $44,000.00
TFC Morgan Ashtone D $44,000.00 $44,000.00
TFC Plata Joao F $50,000.00 $50,000.00
TFC Soolsma Nick M-F $110,000.00 $110,000.00
TFC Stinson Matthew M $44,000.00 $44,000.00
TFC Williams Dicoy D $52,500.00 $52,500.00
TOR Aceval Miguel D $150,000.00 $199,086.72
TOR Burgos Efrain M $33,750.00 $33,750.00
TOR Emory Logan D $44,000.00 $44,000.00
TOR Lambe Reggie M $60,000.00 $62,500.00
TOR Maund Aaron D $44,000.00 $59,000.00
TOR Roberts Quillan GK $33,750.00 $33,750.00
TOR Silva Luis M $44,000.00 $79,000.00