The second and final list of Major League Soccer player salaries for 2014 was released by the MLS Players Union on September 29. There are, as one would expect, plenty of changes from the salary information that was made public this past April.
For starters, the new highest-paid man in MLS is somebody who won’t officially play until next spring. Four United States Men’s National Team names made it into the top-ten this time around. The list begins with a forward who has admittedly had better seasons.
That individual could be ready to end his time in the North American top-flight following this season.
Here are the 10 highest-paid players in MLS (as of September 29, 2014).
10. Marco Di Vaio, Montreal Impact: $2.6 million
Montreal have been dumpster-fire awful in 2014. No team in the league has more league defeats than Montreal (the Impact and Chivas USA both have 18 losses). Montreal are, along with Chivas, in the basement of the overall league standings. The Impact were eliminated from playoff contention before the final month of the campaign.
It’s been a season to forget for Montreal and for Di Vaio. He has notched 6 goals and 4 assists in 22 total appearances this year. The belief is that Di Vaio will leave Montreal and MLS come this December, and it has been reported that he will likely return to Italy.
9. Jermaine Jones, New England Revolution: $3.25 million
Rumors of where Jones would end up seemed to change on a weekly basis during and after the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He was headed to the New York Red Bulls to serve as a possible replacement for supposed Orlando City target Dax McCarty. Chicago Fire were on the verge of acquiring Jones at one point.
A blind draw – seriously – determined his destination after Jones agreed to join MLS near the end of August, and the Revolution came up as the big winners.
Jones and his new teammates have immediately been tasked with attempting to hold off other Eastern Conference sides in pursuit of the best playoff spot. The Revolution sit in second in the conference table as of the posting of this piece. They are six points behind DC United.
8. Tim Cahill, New York Red Bulls: $3.63 million
Cahill has had quite the roller coaster MLS career since joining the Red Bulls in the summer of 2012. He made little impact in his first half-season in the league, and he was called out for perceived lackluster play by ESPN TV analyst Taylor Twellman last spring.
Those comments seemed to light a fire under Cahill, who went on to be the best player on what was the best regular season team in MLS. Cahill helped the Red Bulls win the Supporters’ Shield, the first meaningful trophy in club history, in 2013.
Cahill was busy with World Cup duty over the summer, and it has affected his club play. The 34-year-old has 2 goals and 2 assists in 21 league appearances.
7. Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls: $4.35 million
Odds are that the living legend who has done it all in the game is the most-talented overall MLS player in history as of October 2014. While his RBNY career got off to a slow start, he netted 39 goals and notched 25 assists from 2011 through 2013. The Metro captain is quietly having a solid year as the team’s key setup man, entering October with 13 assists along with 9 goals.
Enjoy watching Henry while you can. The veteran who turned 37 years old in August is reportedly eying the end of his playing days, and it has been heavily rumored that Henry will retire when New York’s season comes to an end.
6. Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy: $4.5 million
Keane has, simply put, been worth every penny since joining MLS. Designated players are meant to bring attention and titles to clubs, and Keane has done that and then some over the past several years. He is a two-time MLS Cup winner. He and the Galaxy hoisted the Supporters’ Shield in 2011.
The best could be yet to come for the ageless front man.
Keane sits third in the league in goals scored. He and teammates Gyasi Zardes (16 goals, one behind Keane) and Landon Donovan (league-leader in assists with 18 with 10 goals) could all end up being MVP candidates for 2014. One of them may win the award if LA finish the regular season atop the league table.
5. Landon Donovan, LA Galaxy: $4.58 million
Unlike with Henry, there are no questions about Donovan‘s playing future past this fall. He announced earlier this year that he will be retiring after the Galaxy play their final game of the year. The United States Men’s National Team legend who scored the most famous goal in the history of US Soccer could win several awards before he hangs his boots up.
The Galaxy are arguably the best team in the league and they are Supporters’ Shield contenders. They will, so long as the key pieces in the squad remain healthy through October, be favorites to win the MLS Cup. Donovan could also be a sentimental choice for MLS MVP.
4. Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC: $6.18 million
Defoe was one of several pieces brought in by Toronto last winter in an attempt to reboot a club that failed its faithful supporters year after year. The experiment was successful early on into the campaign, and Defoe looked like a legitimate Golden Boot candidate in the spring.
Then came injury woes that were followed by rumors that Defoe had his head turned by former manager Harry Redknapp, who wants to bring the striker back to England and to Queens Park Rangers.
Defoe is back with Toronto, but for how long remains a mystery. The writing on the wall suggests that the front man will ditch the Canadian side for an England return, which would, were that to occur, make him one of the biggest designated player flops in MLS history unless TFC go on a magical run this fall.
3. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC: $6.5 million
Bradley has been one of several Toronto players to receive criticism during the summer and early fall. While much of it has been deserved, focusing on Bradley as the main TFC problem would be a foolish exercise. The American midfielder is hardly the only reason the club collapsed after a hot start.
Bradley, like Defoe and others on the Toronto roster, is a player in limbo. There has been speculation that all of the team’s designated players could leave the club in January if TFC do not qualify for the postseason tournament. Toronto would not be a postseason team if the season ended on September 30.
Bradley will attract bids from home and abroad if he makes it clear that he wants out.
2. Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders: $6.7 million
Dempsey will, unless he has a month to remember in October, fall shy in MLS MVP voting this fall. His 13 goals and 9 assists to date have made for a fine season, but Seattle teammate Obafemi Martins is one of several players who have outdone the American in 2014.
Martins will begin October with 15 goals and 10 assists to his name.
Dempsey, Martins and the rest of the Sounders will be expected to earn their paychecks starting this month. Seattle are tied with LA atop the overall league standings, and the Sounders will have home-field advantage (and a Supporters’ Shield trophy) if they manage to win the conference title.
Dempsey and company have already lifted a trophy this season, as Seattle won the US Open Cup in September.
1. Kaka, Orlando City: $7.17 million
Kaka is a household name among diehard soccer fans. He has won Serie A, La Liga, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA World Cup. Kaka will sell merch and tickets, and he will draw attraction to the expansion team.
What else he will be, outside of that, is a matter of opinion at this time.
The play-maker who will turn 33 years old next April hasn’t participated in even a friendly as an MLS footballer. History suggests that a foreign player who was a superstar in Europe will need time to adjust to the North American league. Maybe Kaka will be an exception.
Or perhaps he’ll be the most overpaid player in MLS in 2015.