The MLS Player Association revealed the yearly salary guide for every team in Major League Soccer and as usual fans and pundits took notice of the top wages in MLS. Inter Miami is the team that has the highest payroll at $17.8 million in wages, while the Vancouver Whitecaps have a budget of $8.6 Million and is the team that spends the least on salaries in the league.
In a more global view, Major League Soccer is paying players much more than in previous years, even though the league was hit with $1 Billion in losses due to the covid-19 pandemic. The average senior base salary for non-DP players is $398 725 compared to $191 505 in 2016.
When it comes to the biggest earners in the league, one thing stands out, the lack of highly paid Americans. Out of the top 25 highest salaries in MLS only one of the 25 is from the United States. South Americans make up more than half of the highest paid players in the top 25, and Mexican internationals make up the two top earners in all of MLS.
25. Mauricio Pereyra - Orlando City - $1.8 Million
Uruguayan midfielder Mauricio Pereyra has been with Orlando City since 2019 and has not disappointed. Pereyra has contributed greatly to the Lions attack, partnering with Nani. At $1.8 million his salary might be high, but he does contribute a great deal, a big workhorse.
24. Lucas Zelarayan - Columbus Crew - $1.9 Million
Talk about a bargain! Lucas Zelarayan is one of the best players in MLS and at under $2 million the Argentine midfielder has to be considered a steal. Zelarayan’s impact has been felt in Ohio, an MLS Cup, MLS MVP, and Newcomer of the year award in 2020.
23. Jonathan dos Santos - Los Angeles Galaxy - $2 Million
The Mexican defensive midfielder came to the Galaxy to complement his brother Gio, well clearly the much cheaper and hardworking dos Santos has paid off for the Galaxy. Jonathan dos Santos has been a workhorse, oftentimes judged by his paycheck and not his work rate, the Mexican has been top class in L.A. in the recent years.
22. Raul Ruidiaz - Seattle Sounders - $2.1 Million
Show him the money! Raul Ruidiaz is one of the most prolific scorers in MLS! The Peruvian international has been nothing short of sensational for the Sounders. Quick and lethal, Raul Ruidiaz is nothing but money in front of goal.
21. Gustavo Bou - New England Revolution - $2.12 Million
Gustavo Bou has been a critical part of the Revs attack since his arrival in 2019. A hard worker and a powerful finisher, Bou and the Revs are looking for their first title with the Argentine leading the attack.
20. Alan Pulido - Sporting Kansas City - $2.2 Million
Mexican sensation Alan Pulido has shown flashes of what he can do in MLS. Injuries sidelined him most of 2020, but his numbers when on the field are impressive. 9 goals in 18 games. If Pulido can stay healthy SKC are a team to watch.
19. Luciano Acosta - FC Cincinnati - $2.222 Million
The 26-year-old Argentine is being paid for what he did in the past, and not so much what he has to offer now. Luciano Acosta had up and down seasons at DC United, after a failed move to PSG, he was an afterthought in Atlas. FC Cincinnati spent the big bucks to sign him back to MLS where they will need a lot more from Acosta than 1 good season.
18. Sebastian Blanco - Portland Timbers - $2.3 Million
The MLS is Back MVP was having a 2020 to dream for until he went down with an ACL. Sebastian Blanco’s MLS body of work has been nothing short of fantastic. A leader, a risk taker, and a lot of hustle, the Timbers can’t wait to have him back.
17. Albert Rusnak - Real Salt Lake - $2.35 Million
Still one of the league's top earners, Albert Rusnak has been with RSL since 2017. Dynamic, good passer, Rusnak has been one of the team's best players. While always consistent, Albert Rusnak has never truly been a star in MLS, but rather a good player for a small market team.
16. Gaston Gimenez - Chicago Fire - $2.358 Million
Gaston Gimenez’s time in Chicago can be described in one word… FLOP. The now Paraguayan international has failed to live up to his $2.5 million salary, but then again, nothing has gone right for Chicago in recent years. Gimenez is on course to becoming one of MLS’s biggest flops.
15. Nani - Orlando City SC - $2.4 Million
When one thinks of one of the biggest blockbuster signings in MLS, Nani may not come to mind, but he should. A significant signing, Orlando City changed completely with the Portuguese international running their midfield. Great goals, great plays, a true pro, that’s what you want from a DP and a top earner.
14. Robert Beric - Chicago Fire - $2.7 Million
Robert Beric has been a shining light in a pretty dim Fire team. The Slovenian forward has proven his worth on a pretty dreadful team. At $2.7 million he has earned his keep, despite not having a proper supporting cast.
13. Nicolas Lodeiro - Seattle Sounders FC -$2.73 Million
One of the best players in league history, Nicolas Lodeiro has been nothing but a major contributor to the Sounders since his arrival from Boca Juniors in 2016. The Uruguayan midfielder recently signed an extension which should keep him in Seattle towards the end of his career.
12. Carles Gil - New England Revolution - $2.76 Million
One of the biggest finds of 2019, and after a rough 2020, Carles Gil will look to lead the Revs back to the MLS Cup and this time win it in 2021. Gil had an amazing 2019, 2020 the Spanish international was often injured. A fan favorite and midfield maestro, Bruce Arena will look to have the best of Gil this season.
11. Jurgen Locadia - FC Cincinnati - $2.8 Million
On loan from Brighton & Hove Albion, Jurgen Locadia has, let’s just say, been uneventful since coming to MLS. Signed on until midseason it’s hard to think FC Cincinnati will keep a very subpar player at this high a salary past June.
10. Franco Jara - FC Dallas - $2.9 Million
Franco Jara ended 2020 with only 7 goals and will be looking to break out in 2020. The 32-year-old Argentine was never golden boot material in any team he has played for. FC Dallas must ask themselves with other names on this list, why are they paying so much for a goalless forward?
9. Victor Wanyama - CF Montreal - $3 Million
Who? Someone named Victor Wanyama, who played for Tottenham, but hey even more impressive is how CF Montreal can shell out 3 million a year on a defensive midfielder.
8. Maxi Moralez - New York City FC - $3.2 Million
A lot of fans roll their eyes when they realize that Maxi Moralez is NYCFC’s highest paid player, but the little man from Argentina has proven his worth with goals and assists. Arguably the club's best player year after year. At 34, NYCFC will need to start thinking about life after Maxi, but while he is still there, he has contributed.
7. Rodolfo Pizarro - Inter Miami - $3.3 Million
Last year we stated that Rodolfo Pizarro was not worth the high salary he was on. This year we can continue to say the same thing. The Mexican international is simply too hot and cold to be a clutch player. Pizarro will need to step up big time to earn that salary.
6. Jozy Altidore - Toronto FC - $3.6 Million
A DP of yesteryear, Jozy Altidore has been a top earner in MLS since he returned to the league in 2015. Often injured and producing just two goals last season, on paper the numbers are respectable, 59 goals in 126 games. Still, you get the feeling that TFC would do anything to get out of the deal.
5. Josef Martinez - Atlanta United - $3.8 Million
The king of goals, one of the best pure finishers in MLS history, Josef Martinez deserves this salary and then some. Atlanta United are just happy that in 2021 Josef is back and will most likely put the ball in the back of the net.
4. Alejandro Pozuelo - Toronto FC - $4.6 Million
Now in his third season in Toronto, Alejandro Pozuelo has been a midfield general and one of the most exciting players in MLS. He was the league MVP in 2020 and best eleven his first two seasons.
3. Gonzalo Higuain - Inter Miami - $5.7 Million
The league's highest paid player in 2020 drops to number 3 in 2021. Gonzalo Higuain had a tough go in his short first season at Inter Miami, but things are looking better for him in 2021. The Argentine looks more comfortable and much more lethal in front of goal. Inter Miami’s hopes rest on Gonzalo Higuain.
2. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez - LA Galaxy - $6 million
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández is back! After a disastrous 2020, the Mexican superstar is proving why he is the second highest paid player in MLS. Off to an electric start in 2021, the MVP title at this point is Chicharito’s to lose.
1. Carlos Vela - LAFC - $6.3 million
Hands down the best player in MLS in the last three seasons as a whole, Carlos Vela gave LAFC all the recognition they needed when they got off the ground. After a career year in 2019, 2021 could be Vela’s biggest season yet.