Thursday, October 30, 2014

3 of 10 Least Expensive MLS Goal Scorers are Crew Players, A Discussion on Wages

Cost per Non-Penalty Goal (NPG)
$5,833 - Joao Plata RSL
$5,986 - Ethan Finlay CLB
$6,167 - Dom Dwyer SKC
$6,929 - Tesho Akindele FCD
$7,500 - Quincy Amarikwa CHI
$7,625 - Fabian Castillo FCD
$8,138 - Bernardo Anor CLB
$9,375 - Luke Mulholland RSL
$10,000 - Andres Romero MTL
$11,478 - Justin Meram CLB

$68,000 - League Median cost per NPG

There are a few discussions to be had with this. One is on the value side of things having a player out perform your their contract is both a blessing and a curse for GM's all over the globe. You also have Major League Soccer's famous single entity league structure that controls all contracts - verses an open market like MLB (quasi-open) or most of the rest of the soccer playing world (wide open).

As my time paying close attention to MLS has grown longer, the more discontented I become when it comes to things like this. It was reported recently that Ethan Finlay signed a new deal for, presumably, more money but haven't heard much from the rest of this group. Goal scoring is obviously not the only way to measure a players worth. Benardo Anor has been on my lists of underpaid players a couple times but still only makes $48k in yearly wage. Now, him showing up here, MLS will likely take him to the next pay tier / grade (probably in the 60-90 range).

Since MLS controls all the contracts the system isn't too different than something you have at your job. Do well and you get a bump the same as any other player in your position, as recommended by your boss.. uh, coach. I saw this recently with Justin Morrow had a great year in San Jose. He went from a low base starting wage to a little over $100k and saw it again with Josh Williams going from low to $125k last year. Incremental increases are a way to control cost. It works in the business place but in the world of sports (where you only have earning power for a short time) it kinda hoses the player.

Looking up and down the list of player wages certain patterns become clear. It's a pretty simple list, here's how I have it off the top of my head:

1. "Name Guys" - These days USMNT players because that team is hot, hot, hot! with millennials, but also foreign in English speaking or Anglo friendly leagues (Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Robbie Keane, Marco Di Vaio, Jermain Defoe)

1a. "Outstanding DP" - Usually foreign and a club legend where he came from, just not known here and are probably the better players in the league, some fitting MLS 'style' others not (Andreas Escobar, Federico Higuain, Diego Valeri)

2. "Good MLS Player Guy" - Big group. This is were guys that have played well for years (Graham Zusi, Chad Marshall, Kenny Miller, Mike Magee, Brad Evans, Steven Lenhart).

3. "Expected MLS Starter" - This is where you fall if you have been identified as able to compete at MLS level. Incidentally, they are the one's that hit the cap number most as far as volume of dudes. There are hits and misses in here (Bobby Convey, Andrew Driver, Agustin Viana, Josh Williams).

3a. "In the 18" - Better than college draft players or down roster guys, durable, athletic. Or maybe that free agent foreign player that as technical ability. (Baggio Husidic, Peguy Luyindula, Chad Barrett, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause)

4. "The 20 to 30" - The rest fall into the 20-30 slots on a thirty man roster. You could call this purgatory, really. Mostly college drafts for USL pro level guys that MLS pick up and see if they fit the system or league. These guys are expected to be the filler. It's a tough spot to be and makes up a huge % of players in the league (Rich Balchan, Adam Jahn, Grand Ward, Aaron Kovar, Ross Friedman).

I guess, going through this mini exercise now, I see why I do pull down lists of guys over performing. The guys in that 20-30 purgatory / tumbler. It's always great to see a player make it out of that group. On the Crew we've seen Josh Williams do it and it sounds like Ethan Finlay will too. But this is MLS, so in order to get that next incremental raise they need to do even more for years (while being stuck on bad teams and no chance to shine in defunct reserve league) verses getting paid - like, now for your abilities and a chance to shine with good players.

Only so much money in the coffers, I guess. Just hope that one day the market determines how it is distributed to the the players that are earning it.

Final note: 5 / 10 guys at top of post are Hunt Sports Group pickups.

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