MLS has an odd salary structure. Nobody who is objective can claim otherwise. While some players are fairly compensated most quite frankly are not. The following list provides us with a player per team that is likely to contribute more to the league this season than their salary would indicate. This list is a hodgepodge featuring young starts like Stuart Holden and Marvell Wynne, US National Team vets like Eddie Lewis and Frankie Hejduk, journeymen like Eric Denton, young foreign stars like Freddy Montero and late game snipers like Abe Thompson.
Bargain MLS buys at $200,000 guaranteed compensation and under:
Jon Busch $ 106,000
Bush who was significant improvement over Matt Pickens is a bargain especially for a team that is overpaying a handful of players.
Dan Kennedy $50,000
Anytime you can get a keeper who has played in South America so cheap it’s a steal. Kennedy has seen more technical attacking play and more tactical management than he will in MLS. In his first full MLS season he will likely be ahead of the curve.
Frankie Hejduk $175,000
Guys with 82 international caps and four years Bundesliga experience and having been selected to three World Cup squads don’t come this cheap. Call it a steal!
Omar Cummings $ 73,750
A solid attacking player whose career for club and country is on the upswing.
Kenny Cooper $108,000
One of the best American born attacking players on the planet makes less than half Justin Mapp’s salary. That’s MLS logic for you.
Greg Janicki $34,000
The former PDL and USL-2 defender is in MLS at a bargain price. Sure beats chasing down Gonzalo’s in South America.
Stuart Holden $34,728
I certainly hope the CBA is much improved after this year because it is difficult to take MLS serious as a professional football league when a player of Holden’s quality and pedigree (he did play with a Premier League club and has been a consistent part of the US Youth team setup) can make such an insultingly low salary.
And you wonder why so many young Americans skip MLS entirely and go overseas from the get go?
Abe Thompson $ 63,625
I’ll admit this one is a stretch but the Wizards seem to be a high salary, mediocre quality team so I had to pick someone!
Eddie Lewis $ 165,722
Eddie Lewis, a far more accomplished left sided midfielder both on the club and national team level than Bobby Convey makes substantially less. More MLS logic for you. It’s a sad state of affairs when two of the best American players of the last decade, Hejduk and Lewis both make less than Justin Mapp, Conor Casey, Bobby Convey and Davy Arnaud.
Steve Ralston $150,000
I’m glad to see MLS rewards loyalty with this one. The best player who has been in MLS since its inception (recall Jaime Moreno arrived in the middle of 1996 after the EPL season concluded) making a salary less than the four players named above and also less than Richard Mulrooney!
Danny Cepero $34,000
Houston and Real Salt Lake learned last year this kid is a steal at the price.
REAL SALT LAKE
Javi Morales $200,000
A lot of money let almost unmatched quality in the league. A steal.
Freddy Montero $155,000
A rare case of MLS plucking a kid out of Latin America who had serious European suitors. Will probably tear up the league this year and maybe after that move on.
Eric Denton $57,960
This may be a biased pick but I love Denton’s work rate and quality left foot in defense. He was out of the league for a few years and Frank Yallop was wise to bring him back.
Marvell Wynne $159,500
It’s only a matter of time before Wynne moves to Europe. A player with this pace and developing technical skills are hard to find. It’s a shame he has to play on turf though.