2014 Major League Soccer player salaries were released to the public on April 10, and there were, truth be told, not many surprises among the highest-paid players in the league. The top two, as was already known, are the two big offseason splashes made by Toronto FC during the 2014 January transfer. Two big-name US Soccer stars and legends who are nearing the final days of their playing careers are also included in the list.
10 Pedro Morales - Vancouver Whitecaps ($1.41 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
The jury is still very much out regarding Morales. He joined Vancouver this past February, and he has only appeared in five regular season matches (three starts) for his new club. Morales has a goal and two assists in his MLS debut campaign.
None of this is to suggest that expectations for Morales will not be high. The contract awarded to him this past offseason set a club record. The 28-year-old will be looking to jump-start his career following a disappointing 2013-14 stint at Malaga, where he scored a single goal in 15 appearances.
9 Marco Di Vaio - Montreal Impact ($2.6 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
Di Vaio, who will turn 38 years old in July, remains one of the best strikers in all of MLS. He finished second in the league in total shots (118) last season, and he scored on 20 of those attempts on goal. Only two players, Camilo Sanvezzo (formerly of Vancouver Whitecaps) and reigning league MVP Mike Magee (Chicago Fire), had more goals in '13 than did Di Vaio.
His struggles with understanding the offside rule can be aggravating for Montreal supporters. There are also very reasonable concerns about just how much longer Di Vaio will be able to go at a top level. The Impact have proven that they can be playoff contenders with the veteran front man fully fit.
Without him, though, Montreal could be in trouble, and starting the season with an 0-3-3 record, it looks like they already are.
8 Obafemi Martins - Seattle Sounders ($1.75 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
Martins, advertised as one of the most exciting players to ever sign for MLS when he joined Seattle in March of 2013, had a good but not great first season in the league. Martins appeared in 20 matches, he made 17 starts, he buried eight goals and notched four assists, and he played over 1,460 minutes.
Martins, along with Seattle teammate Clint Dempsey (more on Dempsey later in this piece), is off to a hot start to the 2014 campaign. The Sounders star has already equaled the amount of assists he had in 2013, and those four set-ups are a league best. Dempsey and Martins are clicking for Seattle this spring, and that could mean bad times for future opponents.
7 Tim Cahill - New York Red Bulls ($3.63 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
Remember when former player and current ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman called Cahill out for not producing meaningful stats during MLS games? In all fairness to TT, it wasn't as if Cahill was lighting it up in his first half-season in the league. Cahill put in plenty of hard work during games, but he wasn't finding the back of the net, nor was he setting teammates up with scoring opportunities.
Cahill would go on to quiet all doubters by the end of the 2013 season. He was the Most Valuable Player for a New York side that won the first significant trophy (the Supporters' Shield) in the history of the franchise. Cahill was also a league MVP candidate.
6 Thierry Henry - New York Red Bulls ($4.35 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
Henry, one of the greatest footballers of his generation, is in the twilight of his career. His legs aren't nearly what they were even a few years ago. It is expected that the Red Bulls will choose to rest Henry throughout much of the 2014 season.
None of this means, however, that Henry still can't deliver a brilliant bit of skill or a true golazo every now and again.
It is likely that Henry will call it quits on his Red Bulls, MLS and possibly his professional playing career once the season comes to an end. Enjoy him while you can, fans from around the world. He has done it all, and he has been a true gem.
5 Landon Donovan - LA Galaxy ($4.58 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
What left could there be to say about Landon Donovan? He will, when he retires, immediately be recognized as the greatest American footballer to ever play the game at the highest level. Donovan scored arguably the greatest ever US Soccer goal during the 2010 World Cup.
His place in history is already set regardless of what he does moving forward.
It is widely believed that Donovan, who turned 32 years old this past March, will be preparing to play in what will be his final World Cup this coming summer. There are even some whispers that Donovan, the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Galaxy franchise, could call time on his playing career following the conclusion of the 2014 MLS season.
4 Robbie Keane - LA Galaxy ($4.5 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
For a guy who has seemingly been playing top-flight football since the day before forever, Keane will turn just 34 in July 2014. The ageless front man has proven to be worth every cent for the Galaxy since joining MLS midway through the 2011 campaign. He scored 16 goals in each of his first two full seasons with the club.
He also helped LA twice hoist the MLS Cup.
Keane is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He has two goals and an assist in three appearances in 2014.
3 Clint Dempsey - Seattle Sounders ($6.69 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
Dempsey followed a very successful run at Fulham with a season-long stint at Tottenham Hotspur. His most memorable moments at Spurs involved a match-winner to stun Manchester United at Old Trafford (a goal that helped save the job of then Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas) and a goal at White Hart Lane that earned Tottenham a draw versus that same United side.
Dempsey surprised many during the 2013 summer transfer window when he returned to the United States to play for Major League Soccer side Seattle Sounders. He failed to make an immediate impact with the club, notching a single goal in nine regular season appearances (six starts).
2014 has, thus far, been far more kind to the US international. Dempsey has buried four goals and he has also contributed an assist in three games (two starts).
2 Jermain Defoe - Toronto FC ($6.18 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
There had, since the days of Harry Redknapp, constantly been rumors that Tottenham Hotspur were looking to sell Jermain Defoe to the highest bidder. Such an offer never came, however, and Defoe would find himself beneath the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado on the Spurs squad at the start of the 2013-14 Premier League campaign.
Then, along came Drake. Yes, music artist Drake. Drake recruited the 31-year-old England international to Toronto in 2013, and Defoe joined TFC for good at the conclusion of this past February.
Defoe's MLS career began with a bang. The former Tottenham star averaged a goal a game in three starts. Nagging hamstring problems that sidelined him during his final days at Spurs have returned this spring, however, and they could be a worry for player and for club moving forward.
1 Michael Bradley - Toronto FC ($6.5 Million Guaranteed in 2014)
Michael Bradley had a choice to make during the January transfer window: Continue a pursuit of playing European football and maybe even in Champions League, or take the best offer on the table.
Bradley chose the latter, cashing in on a monster contract and also guaranteeing himself first-team football with a side that could use the help even after it acquired the previously mentioned Defoe.
There were, before Bradley's MLS return was officially announced, rumors that the 26-year-old could make a switch to the Premier League, perhaps to Tottenham Hotspur. It wasn't to be, and Bradley, arguably the best overall American footballer in the world today, will look to be in top form heading into this summer's World Cup.