One thing was clear following the addition of Sebastian Gionvince, Jozy Altidore, Benoit Cheyrou, and Damien Perquis and that was that Toronto FC were going to be one of the top spenders in MLS this season. Even with the departures of Jermain Defoe and Gilberto the teams budget ballooned to an all-time high.
While the MLS Players Union have not released their first round of salary figures for 2015 it has not stopped SportingIntelligence from releasing their figures on the highest paying professional sports teams. Their most recent round of data includes 333 teams from 17 different league and one of those leagues happens to be MLS. According to the published methodology for their data they are using the 2015 MLS salary figures which have not yet been made publicly available by either the league or the union.
In their rankings of the 333 teams the highest ranked MLS side comes in at 204th. That team is Toronto FC who are reportedly spending an average of $891,304 annually on players. That is an increase on what they were spending last season and as a result they have moved up 10 positions in the overall rankings. It also means that once again Toronto FC are the biggest spenders in MLS and this time around it is by a comfortable margin.
|MLS rank||Team||Average salary|
|3||New York City||$535,714|
|5||New York Red Bulls||$481,234|
|7||New England Revolution||$315,562|
The lowest spender in the league is the Colorado Rapids who come in at a reported $139,897 which is good for 309th out of 333 ranked teams. According to these numbers Toronto FC is spending more on players than the bottom six spenders combined.
The numbers seem like something that should be treated with a generous helping of grains of salt but the fact that TFC is comfortably sitting on top of the heap should come as no real surprise. The amount of money that they are paying Giovinco, Altidore, and Michael Bradley certainly inflates their overall spending and there is no other team in MLS that is spending that kind of money on three different players.
The LA Galaxy are spending big on Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane but their third DP, Omar Gonzalez, is much less expensive. The Seattle Sounders spend big on Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey but also have a bargain DP in the form of Osvaldo Alonso. New York City FC only have two DPs but they are very expensive ones in the form of David Villa and Frank Lampard. While the other top spending team, Orlando City, are spending most of their money on Kaka with their other two DPs Carlos Rivas and Bryan Rochez not costing nearly as much.
The confusing member of the top six on this list is the New York Red Bulls. They slipped down the rankings from last year but still remain 5th in MLS despite having only one DP currently on the roster. There is no way that they are spending so much on Bradley Wright Phillips that it should result in them spending more on the average player than a team like the Sounders with two high paid stars.
What is clear from these numbers is that the teams in the league that are spending the most on average are doing it by spending a lot of money on a limited number of players. If the Designated Players were taken out of the equation it would likely result in nearly all of the MLS teams finding themselves very near the bottom of these rankings.
The lack of balance in the spending in MLS was an issue that many were hoping would be addressed in the new CBA but based on what we know about the new deal that is not the case. MLS continues to be a top heavy league in which the bulk of the spending on salaries continues to be on barely more than a handful of players.
It will be interesting to see how the Players Union figures lineup with the SportingIntelligence data when they are finally released. Normally the first round of figures are made available by early May but they could be delayed this year as a result of the CBA needing to be ratified.