Everyone but everyone is passing around the players' salaries released by the MLS Players Union, who, as many have noted, were kind enough to chuck it to the masses. This has also been dissected a dozen different ways by now, so I hope the approach taken below is in some way novel.
Two note before proceeding: having started work on this I have to confess to feeling some pangs of guilt in discussing what some players make. Said pangs are, obviously, not sharp enough to make me stop, but some of the figures are just shocking - and on both sides of the spectrum. That segues a bit into the second note: you gotta wonder whether this information affects the dynamic on the teams with the more unbalanced salary distribution.
In any case, going team-by-team, here are the best bargains and the biggest busts on each roster:
Bargain: Matt Pickens at $32,340 (say what?!), though he’s got competition
Bust: Blanco’s the obvious choice, but he hasn’t played and could cover the cost on and/or off the field; but that’s precisely why Pascal Bedrossian’s $185,008 guaranteed salary seems such a waste.
Overview: These guys don’t do so badly. Logan Pause seems a bit high, but most are pretty sane - in MLS terms anyway.
Bargain: Given the thin roster at forward, Laurent Merlin’s $17,700 seems pretty miserly, though Guzan’s pretty cheap for a ‘keeper of his caliber.
Bust: Yeah, gotta go with Amado Guevara at $291,250. I wonder how much of that they’ll have to pay when all’s said and done (can they pass on that cost to, say, a Honduran team?)
Overview: Looking at Chivas, there's less room for outrage than I thought. (NOTE: And then I got to New England...)
Bargain: Given his year so far, Ned Grabavoy, who’s pulling down a spare $52,550.25 guaranteed (why the quarter?).
Bust: And given his year so far - actually his entire stint with Columbus, you gotta wonder if Eddie Gaven is worth a $188,000 hit to the salary cap.
Overview: The Crew is the first team that seems a bit out of whack, but, to cut them some slack, injuries have seriously complicated some signings’ potential. (NOTE: Having looked at a few of the more egregious examples, the Crew err on the side of generosity.)
Bargain: It’s a toss-up here between the two guys they got from LA: Herculez Gomez and Ugo Ihemelu, who earn $49,350 and $55,000, respectively - and that’s not so bad in the league-wide scheme.
Bust: Has Jovan Kirovski given $200,000 worth of value for this strapped league? The wisdom of bringing in Jose Cancela at $156K hardly stands as a no-brainer either.
Overview: Colorado does pretty well by many of their players. Maybe that’s why they seem to get along so well.
Bargain: A fair number from which to choose, but I’m going with Alex Yi at $30,850; it’s not so much he’s great (good enough, though) that he’s a starter.
Bust: “Clean Sheet” Shaka (Hislop) at $220,800? That goes double with Dario Sala at half the cost.
Overview: These guys have issues in that they're the flip-side of the Crew - e.g. they err on the miser's side, though a couple players are smiling (Ruiz and the new Latin dudes); I guess everyone else needs to “prove themselves?”
Bargain: Jesus! “Robert” Boswell at $30,870?! Talk to your agent, son. That’s Alex Yi money. Worse, he’s got company.
Bust If only because everyone hates him, I’d say Facundo Erpen’s $115K.
Overview: Dude. I thought the Revs were tight. (NOTE: They are.)
Bargain: It’s tought, but given their needs at forward, Chris Wondolowski’s $30,000 seems a little cheap.
Bust: I’m stretching here, but I haven’t seen Patrick Ianni earn the $103,000 he’s showing.
Overview: Yeah, no one’s getting rich, but here’s another team that does pretty well with sharing the wealth.
Kansas City Wizards
Bargain: Hands down: Scott Sealy at $33,075 guaranteed. He deserves some of Eddie Johnson’s pay.
Bust: Eddie Johnson’s $875,000, but he’s got time to redeem that...damn shame he’ll leave the second he does.
Overview: There’s a fairly sober compensation picture between Johnson’s barely-sane outlier up top and Sealy’s pittance at the bottom.
Los Angeles Galaxy
Bargain: Ty Harden at $17,700 - another starter living on orts.
Bust: Santino Quaranta’s (weird) $105,312.50 hasn’t really returned dollar for value.
Overview: Any success these guys enjoy is built on the back of some seriously underpaid players, not a few of them criminally so. Becks better pony up for every...mother...fucking...meal.
New England Revolution
Bargain: I can’t believe I just read this: Andy-freakin’-Dorman at $30,870. On the Welshman’s behalf, fuck you Bob Kraft! Hell, who am I kidding? With, literally, 10 exceptions, the whole roster is a fucking bargain. How does that man sleep at night? Players, boycott this douche bag!
Bust: I love the player, but Daniel Hernandez isn’t fit nearly enough to justify his $155K. If and when fit, absolutely.
Overview: DC United, you have my apologies. There is no beating Bob “Shithead Without Shame” Kraft for stinginess.
Red Bull New York
Bargain: Seth Stammler’s $30,870 needs adjusting upward, but the rest of the figures suggest he’s likely to get there.
Bust: Clint Mathis at $410,000 guaranteed, though, like EJ, he can make amends; and, unlike EJ, he’s likely to stick around if and when success comes.
Overview: Overall, Red Bull runs a comparatively respectable set-up - especially for the East.
Real Salt Lake
Bargain: Willis Forko’s $30K is pretty tough for a starter
Bust: I’d call this a toss-up between Nick Besagno’s $111,500 and Luis “I’m Where Now?” Tejada’s $105,000.
Overview: Do Western teams (LA excepted) simply pay better? These guys are worse than several above, but they’re nothing like DC or the Revs.
Bargain: Given they brought him in precisely because he’s a proven commodity in MLS, Kevin Goldthwaite’s “Defender’s wages” ($30,870) seems a great return, but I suspect they have Houston to thank for that.
Bust: Can I name the rest of the roster? Edson Buddle’s $150K seems out of whack given his past and expected future production; but seeing Marcos Reda stink up the joint makes his $105,000 hard to swallow.
Overview: Toronto’s pay structure looks relatively sane - not that I see that helping them.