MLS Math: Does it Add Up?

I must admit despite the speculation I was mildly surprised by the news Carlos Ruiz has returned to the LA Galaxy. I understand that the Galaxy have Joe Cannon and Clint Mathis both off the books and that the three “DPs” (David Beckham, Carlos Ruiz and Landon Donovan) only count 400k each towards the approximately $2.2 million cap. But after the three DPs, Abel Xavier, Chris Klein and Chris Albright, I guesstimate the Galaxy has about $600,000 to pay the rest of the squad: 12 senior roster players including as many as five foreigners.

But as we have so often in the past the salary cap doesn’t seem to always make sense or according to some of the more cynical fans of non big market teams, the salary cap doesn’t apply to everyone. This allegation has most often been made about the Galaxy in the past and is sure to rear its ugly head again. This is especially true because conspiracy theorists, many of whom I speak to were convinced when Ruiz was exempted from the DP rule it was not being done for FC Dallas’ benefit but for the sake of the Galaxy.

Let me state I don’t know enough about the backroom deals and politics within MLS to truly understand whether rules really are bent for the Galaxy on a regular basis, but it does smell funny to me. I found it suspicious in past years when San Jose under AEG ownership used to make seemingly one sided trades with the Galaxy: trades that never seemed to be in the interest of the Earthquakes.

Whether or not their is foul play right now doesn’t matter. Considering the suspicions within the soccer community in the US that the Salary Cap and other squad rules don’t necessarily apply to the Galaxy, the trade of Carlos Ruiz for a classic undisclosed allocation, which is vocabulary I had hoped the MLS would stop using in reference to trades. This very term makes the league look very mickey mouse not only to the Eurosnobs but to its biggest supporters as well. If MLS seeks to change this reputation, it is imperative that the allocation system and salary structure receive some sunshine as we call it down here in Florida (open records, open books) to eliminate all suspicion and talk of conspiracies.

10 thoughts on “MLS Math: Does it Add Up?”

  1. ‘Quakes fans have known about this for over a decade. I’m just glad that San Jose has it’s own ownership now, and will hopefully no long be treated as just a feeder team for the Galaxy.


  2. Kartik, I love your show and am a faithful listener. But you better not bring this one up to Denholm because he will rightfully rip your head off. You are just aiding the conspiracy theorists by writing this. Let’s be honest: Most fans of other clubs are envious of the Galaxy’s success both on the field and in drawing crowds and publicity to the club. That’s why we are the MLS gold standard.

  3. The Galaxy have gotten all of the breaks since joining the league. Prized allocations, ability to have the league pay high transfer fees for players that appeal to an ethnic fan base, unbelievale compensation when one of their players leaves, etc, etc.

    Now they have 3 DP slots without trading for any, while every other team has 1. This is grossly unfair and illogcial. MLS Math, to answer your question, does not add up!

  4. Can anyone please explain what the Chicago Fire are up to? Their recent player and managerial transaction make no sense and the club seems to be all of a sudden short of money. The conspiracy theory would be that LA & New York are up for 2008 and Chicago and New England are down.

  5. I think that this may be the single biggest factor against me developing a greater interest in MLS. The shady under the table dealings are so blatant it is ridiculous.

  6. Ty, you aren’t the first one to make this statement to me in the last few weeks. I met an English guy a few weeks back, not a full fledged ex-pat. He’s just come from the UK a year and a half ago and plans on moving back when his work visa expires in six months.

    He has heard MLS was rubbish in the UK, but when he got here he was pleasantly surprised about how high the level of play was and the caliber of the squads. However, being a Premier League oriented person he doesn’t understand the “allocation” system and why the salary cap is a so “soft” as he called it. Either the cap should be standing rule or should be done away with. Like you, and many others he thinks the cap applies to smaller clubs while bigger clubs (namely the Galaxy) can sign whomever they want and use creative math to fit under the cap.

    He likes the quality of play in MLS saying it is far superior to the Championship and resembles mid to lower table Premier League….ie Boro vs Wigan or such. But he doesn’t get the shady deals and rules being broken and thus is turned off the league. He pointed out to me Abel Xavier turned down a big contract from Boro, and then supposedly signed with the Galaxy for half the salary. He tells me that is impossible and that he believes the Galaxy are hiding the money.

    I don’t know what the truth is but the appearance is bad enough to turn people like you and him off.

  7. I have to disagree with tyduffy and Kartik’s English friend. While the rules are bent and even broken for the benefit of New York and LA (on a salary cap for example how was New York able to afford two starters from the 1994 World Cup Final match in their squad in 1996, as well as the World Cup winning manager as the coach?)it is not wise if you are American to ignore the league if you want the game to last in this country. All of the football you enjoy now on Television and the increased emphasis on football in the media believe it or not probably is reduced if it does not go away altogteher if MLS folds.

    TV viewership for the MLS is still far greater than TV viewership for LaLiga, Serie A and the EPL. The only league which has more viewers in the US is the Mexican League, and now those two leagues seem to have their fate and marketing in many ways intertwined in such a way that MLS can piggyback off the Mexican League’s popularity in this country. The only two non World Cup soccer match that EVER gets substantial ratings here comparable to the NFL, NBA or NCAA Football are the Chivas Guadalajara- Club America match and the US-Mexico match. Expect Feb 6th to be highest viewership soccer match of the year here in the US.

  8. I’m a die in the wool MLS backer, but questions needs to be asked and answered as to how LA can afford three DPs while talk of more big time foreign signings is in the mill.

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