Major League Soccer has grown considerably since its humble beginnings in 1996.
Getting its start following the United States-hosted FIFA World Cup in 1994, the league began with just 10 teams. That’s the way it stayed until 2005, when MLS began an aggressive expansion plan.
Toronto FC became MLS’s first Canadian team in 2007, with the Vancouver Whitecaps (2011) and Montreal Impact (2012) joining soon after.
FC Cincinnati joined MLS this year, with Miami and Nashville (2020), as well as Austin (2021) ready to expand the league in the coming years.
With growth comes an increase in revenue and an uptick in players salaries.
- Whitecaps FC acquire Iraqi international Ali Adnan for MLS transfer record
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic lived up to the hype in first Vancouver visit
- Premier League soccer broadcasts moving to online streaming in Canada
The MLS Player’s Association released its annual salary guide last month. Unlike most North American sports leagues, player salaries aren’t always readily available, meaning it’s a once-a-year process.
The average base salary for senior roster non-Designated Players has increased 150% over the last five years, from $138,140 to $345,867. This year also marks the eighth consecutive year of average base salary increases.
The Vancouver Whitecaps decided to clean house last offseason after missing the playoffs, so roster is still very much a work-in-progress at the moment, as head coach Marc Dos Santos tries to piece together a winning lineup.
Vancouver ranked last in total payroll among MLS clubs when the salary guide was released on June 1, though they just signed their most expensive player last week, so his up-to-date salary wasn’t counted.
Ali Adnan signed a Designated Player contract with the Whitecaps, keeping him in Vancouver until 2021 with an option for 2022. Precise details of the contract haven’t been made public, though his contract is reportedly the “most expensive” in Whitecaps history.
The highest reported salary in Whitecaps history is that of Fredy Montero, who earned $1.8 million in 2017.
Here’s a look at the Whitecaps’ 2019 payroll, with Adnan’s salary assumed to be above $1.8 million (all figures listed in US dollars, as listed by Spotrac):
|First Name||Last Name||Position(s)||Base Salary||Guaranteed Compensation|
If Adnan’s contract pays him over $2 million, it would put him into the MLS top-20 in terms of annual guaranteed compensation. That would also pay him more than double Montero, who ranks second among Whitecaps players with $968,000.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic currently leads the league in total salary, with Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore close behind. Carlos Vela (LAFC) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago Fire) are the other players making above $5 million annually.
Here’s a look at the list of players making at least $2 million:
|First Name||Last Name||Club||Position||Guaranteed Compensation|
|Alejandro||Pozuelo Melero||Toronto FC||M-F||$3,800,000|
|Nicolas||Lodeiro||Seattle Sounders FC||M-F||$2,502,500|
|Nani||Orlando City SC||M-F||$2,486,250|
|Carles||Gil||New England Revolution||M-F||$2,337,500|
|Albert||Rusnak||Real Salt Lake||M-F||$2,001,667|
|Jonathan||dos Santos||LA Galaxy||M||$2,000,000|
|Maxi||Moralez||New York City FC||M-F||$2,000,000|
Toronto FC continues to lead the way in player salaries, paying over $21 million in 2019. They’re followed by big market teams in the LA Galaxy ($17.7M), Chicago Fire ($15.9M), and LAFC ($13.8M) as of June 1.
|4||Los Angeles FC||$13,867,292|
|5||Sporting Kansas City||$12,406,910|
|6||Seattle Sounders FC||$11,984,466|
|9||Atlanta United FC||$10,823,757|
|13||Real Salt Lake||$9,613,719|
|14||New York City FC||$9,417,614|
|16||Minnesota United FC||$8,347,111|
|18||New England Revolution||$8,182,996|
|19||San Jose Earthquakes||$8,121,656|
|21||New York Red Bulls||$7,486,025|
|24||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||$6,307,495*|
*Does not take into account Ali Adnan’s current salary