Dempsey, Bradley, Defoe lead 2014 MLS salary figures

ClintDempseyMichaelBradleySoundersTorontoFC1 (USATodaySports)


The Major League Soccer Players Union released the most recent salary figures for the 2014 MLS season on Thursday, and it’s the league’s most recent signings who top the charts.

Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Jermain Defoe are all set to earn north of $5 million guaranteed this season, taking the place of fellow Designated Players Landon Donovan ($4.58 million), Robbie Keane ($4.5 million), and Thierry Henry ($4.35 million) as the league’s highest paid earners.

Dempsey’s guaranteed salary this season is $6,695,189, an increase of approximately $1.66 million from last season’s salary of just over $5 million guaranteed. Bradley is second in the league with $6.5 million guaranteed followed by his Toronto FC teammate Defoe at $6.18 million guaranteed.

You can take a look at the full list of player salaries here.

Other players new to the salary list include Maurice Edu ($650,000) and Michael Parkhurst ($300,000), both of whom returned to the league in the offseason, while players such as Mike Magee ($417,500) and Eddie Johnson ($613,333) both received big pay raises this year.


What do you think of these salaries? Do you see any summer signings topping Dempsey in the salary charts? Surprised at any of the figures?

Share your thoughts below.

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114 Responses to Dempsey, Bradley, Defoe lead 2014 MLS salary figures

  1. frank from santiago says:

    Eddie “show me the money” Johnson ($613,333)….. worth every penny.

    • Ian says:

      You think so? Zero goals in 357 minutes of play this season. I’m not doubting EJ’s quality, but $613k worth of quality? I dunno.

      • frank from santiago says:

        nah, I’m kidding Ian, sorry I can’t stand the guy. way to over rated for my liking. DC over paid for a streaky hothead, that finally got his money, is not showing anything worth a damn.

      • Jack says:

        Are you sure you even know what you are talking about big Lanre?

      • Scott e Dio93 says:

        In fairness, DC United is mediocre but Eddie Johnson slighty better than an average forward.

    • mack says:

      He makes as much as zusi and besler combined. Talk about a bargain

  2. Brain Guy says:

    Dempsey will earn 183 times what the league’s lowest-paid players will earn. How does that compare to other leagues?

    The fact that Luis Robles earns just $100,000 — less than Kimura and less than 1/3 of Wright-Phillips’s salary — is mind-boggling.

    • automata says:

      Crazy to think that Dempsey earns more in one game than the following list of his teammates earn for the entire season (who are all potential starters): Frei, Neagle, Traore, Pappa, Pineda, Remick, Yedlin, Gonzalez, Anibaba, & Azira

    • danny says:

      It’s about marketing and putting more people in the seats, so you don’t value these players based only on their on the field quality.

      • MiamiAl says:


      • Brain Guy says:

        True enough. But considering the respective minimum salaries, this is the equivalent of a baseball salary of over $80 million per year.

        • don Lamb says:

          The problem is that the minimum is too low — not that the maximum is too high. Hopefully the minimum (and therefore the median) will raise significantly in the next CBA.

  3. Vik says:

    Nice to see many of the highest paid players playing well and earning their salaries. Hopefully other team will be more motivated to buy top players a little younger, and not be afraid to splash out the cash to do so.

  4. quitetheschemer says:

    I like that they’re starting to splash the cash on the younger talent. If they would just raise the salary cap to about 5-6 million the league would improve dramatically. We need to be able to pay players that 250k-400k that the market requires us to.

    • quitetheschemer says:

      I would also add an additional DP spot for a CONCACAF player bringing the total to 4.

      • Ian says:

        Extra DP slot, or just more allocation money for CCL teams. I know they get extra now, but obviously it’s not enough to compete with Mexico.

    • MikeG says:

      Looking at 250K-400K we will start to see players from all over the world looking to sign with MLS. It would be a big boost to the league. The league CAN afford it with all that recent growth.

    • beto says:

      +1, being able to sign HGP to $40,000 at first and allowing them to grow into the $100,000+ range outside of the salary cap would be huge for the league.

  5. horrendous giants says:

    so they came back too MLS for the $$$$

    I thought it was because they foresaw the league becoming 1 of the world’s best 😛

    but seriously how close were these 2 to CL? If they were going to play in the CL with their respective clubs, would they have stayed? I believe Bradley was making 1 million euros a year. Dempsey was making like 4 million euros a year

    • AMPhibian says:

      I think both of them easily could have gotten onto a guaranteed CL team in a lesser league if they wanted, so I highly doubt they would have stayed on their current squads, given their role at the time. It’s difficult, or more likely impossible, to say how much the money vs. their desire to come home and grow MLS, weighed into their decisions.

  6. nato says:

    How in the world does Jermaine Defoe make more than Henry?

    Henry at least brings fans and prestige and PR from France

    what does Defoe bring? Sure he scored 1 goal at the last World Cup and is a high scorer for Spurs. but he doesn’t bring in fans or prestige

    • Ian says:

      I agree he’s probably overpaid, but there’s no question what he brings, man: Goals. He’s average 1 goal per game in this young season.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      simple answer? probably because it’s a newer contract.

    • PSU says:

      Henry wanted to be in New York more than Defoe wanted to be in Toronto, so it took less money to convince him to play there. Plus, Defoe has to play in all the games he’s healthy for and not just the games on grass.

    • solles says:

      a) hes English, therefore vastly overvalued; b) he’s much better than Henry at this stage of their respective careers, all respect to Henry’s glorious past.

      • Vik says:

        I would generally agree. Henry still has some fantastic vision and ability, but Defoe is more dangerous on his own at this point.

    • slowleftarm says:

      I agree it’s mostly due to it being a newer contract. However, at this point, Defoe is probably a better player than Henry, or pretty close at least anyway. Plus if he helps the team win, that absolutely attracts fans. As far as “prestige” I think that’s something that only worries eurosnobs so I don’t think it’s too important.

    • AMPhibian says:

      Defoe bringing more fans and prestige than Henry? I feel your premise was almost purposefully built in the sand. Look up Defoe, his history and relevance to the game.

      Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Henry:

      Henry has received many plaudits and awards in his football career. He was runner-up for the 2003 and 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year awards; in those two seasons, he also won back-to-back PFA Players’ Player of the Year titles. Henry is the only player ever to have won the FWA Footballer of the Year three times (2003, 2004, 2006), and the French Player of the Year on a record four occasions. Henry was voted into the Premier League Overseas Team of the Decade in the 10 Seasons Awards poll in 2003, and in 2004 he was named by football legend Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers.
      In terms of goal-scoring awards, Henry was the European Golden Boot winner in 2004 and 2005 (sharing it with Villarreal’s Diego Forlán in 2005). Henry was also the top goal-scorer in the Premier League for a record four seasons (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006). In 2006, he became the first player to score more than 20 goals in the league for five consecutive seasons (2002 to 2006). Henry is currently third in the list of all-time Premier League goal-scorers, behind Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. Given his accomplishments, France’s all-time goal-scorer was in his prime regarded by many coaches, footballers and pundits as one of the best footballers in the world. In November 2007, he was ranked 33rd on the Association of Football Statisticians’ compendium for “Greatest Ever Footballers”.

      • AMPhibian says:

        1 World Cup, 1 European Championship, 1 Champions League, 6 domestic titles (2 England, 2 Spain,1 France, 1 USA); 4 domestic cups (3 England, 1 Spain).

        Jermaine Defoe…sigh.

        Am I feeding a troll?

  7. Ian says:

    Stefen Ishizaki, LA’s new winger (or attacking mid now?), making $213,000. More than I expected, but not more than he deserves. He’s got something special that LA need.

    Anyone else shockingly over- or under-paid in anyone’s opinion?

    • Nate Dollars says:

      besides eddie johnson?

    • frank from santiago says:

      Ian, I would say, Escobar Andres F $647,000.00 for fc dallas. That’s a lot of money for just 38 minutes so far. Although I must say I don’t follow FCD all that much.
      I realize the season is young but he should be starting or be shipped out.

      • Increase0 says:

        He is on loan at Dallas I think. But ya its interesting he isn’t being used. Prolly some culture shock going on the Ukraine. Learning a new culture/language is exhausting.

    • Vik says:

      Atiba Harris at $180K+. He is terrible

      • frank from santiago says:

        as a ‘Quakes fan I couldn’t agree more. also, jason hernandez at 213,333.33 is rediculous for a bench warmer. we shipped out Beitashour & Morrow, which are earning less and much better players but kept hernandez?! FO fail.

  8. Annelid Gustator says:

    Now I’m waiting for ZTom to come and eat some crow. What a fine fellow he is.

  9. 347 says:

    just asking questions

    but with all that cash how come we can’t get some world class players to MLS

    • Ian says:

      MLS is still glaringly stigmatized in the eyes of “world class players.” Just the other day Zlatan Ibrahimovich was quoted as saying after PSG, he’ll either retire or play at a lower level, and every pundit immediately inserted MLS into the conversation.

      If you’re a world class talent in your prime, do you really want to skip the big Euro leagues for a league that’s broadly considered – right or wrong – lower quality? Nope.

      But it’s not all doom and gloom. We’re pulling younger and younger marquee players to our league. Robbie Keane is torn up this league from day one, and he came at 31. Jermaine Defoe is 31, I believe. Then of course we’ve got Deuce and Bradley here now. So it’s only a matter of time before we’re pulling big names here in their mid-20s.

      • Stinky Pete says:

        No one “inserted” MLS, Ibra said it himself. He wants to step down to lower league like America. My bet is that he will play for Beckham United FC since they were former team mates.

        • Ian says:

          Incorrect, amigo. Here’s the quote that got everyone in a tissy:

          “This is my last contract in Europe, so to win it I have to win the Champions League with Paris. The day I leave Paris, I either go down a level or quit football. I’m very happy.

          “I have a contract until 2016 and, after that, I don’t know the future. Maybe my mind is old. Maybe I’m tired. I don’t know. It’s far away from today.”

          No mention of MLS by Ibra; only wild speculation from journalists. You could say MLS was implicit in “down a level,” but then you’re making my point for me.

  10. ji says:

    why did MLS never try and get Klinsmann to play before he retired. he was 34 in 98 but still scoring for germany in the world cup

  11. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    I see guys makin 36.5k a year…how? Do teams providing housing and food?? Thats nothing!

    • Brain Guy says:

      Big assumptions here, I’ll admit, but if this is their full-time job (40 hours/week) over about 40 weeks, that’s 1,600 hours, or about $23/hour.

      • JayAre says:

        Even though $23 an hour is above minimum wage it’s is still pretty low. $23 an hour is slightly above the national average living wage but in some cities that won’t cut it especially if you want start a family.

        link to

        • Vik says:

          I’m surprised there aren’t geographical adjustments for the lower salaries. Living in SLC vs. Portland vs. San Jose vs. NY put very different demands on the wallet.

        • Increase0 says:

          There really should be. Basically none of those guys should want to play in LA/ NY/Seattle/Chicago. Probably Portland too but im not very familiar with their housing costs up there.

          • Ian says:

            Houses are expensive in downtown Portland, but cheap as chips in the suburbs.

            • barkdog says:

              No player at league minimum is buying a house, anywhere, if they’re smart.

              That said, Portland actually has a pretty low cost of living by major-city standards.

        • Brain Guy says:

          I realize it’s well above the minimum wage, but I actually did the calculation to show how low it was.

        • Don says:

          Remember that players are in dead end jobs . Only a handful will make good career money. Most will not. The career is over before you are forty, at best, and usually ends long before that by being cut or injured. The wages are truly horrible for the great bulk of players.

          MLS has abrogated free markets for labor. Teddy Roosevelt knew what to do, bust the trusts.

    • solles says:

      its a living wage at least, better than it used to be in MLS where some guys were making poverty level wages. Hopefully the players union is able to get a higher minimum salary in the next contract, and a higher salary cap, spread the wealth a little more.

      • Paul6 says:

        link to

        holy smokes, Brad Evans at $17,700 in ’07.

        • Increase0 says:

          Why did he even play…. I wouldn’t its not worth being almost homeless. I mean how would you even be able to eat well enough to be a professional athlete on that salary….

          • Dogg says:

            McDonald’s would be a better career move at that pay rate.

          • Broadsthooligans says:

            At that price the team had to have covered housing or at least food. It’s getting better for sure.

          • don Lamb says:

            you have to consider the potential that comes with being a professional. especially for a kid who has never been paid a dime, any regular check is a bonus. however, their eyes are always set on a bigger payday in the future.

    • Luke says:

      Yeah that’s crazy the number of players in really expensive markets like LA, NYC, Toronto, DC making that low of a salary.

      NHL minimum salary for 2014 is $550,000.00
      NBA is $490,000.00
      MLB is $500,000.00
      NFL is $420,000.00

      Even the WNBA has a higher minimum salary. “Players with less than three years of service must be paid at least $37,950.”

      MLS should have a minimum salary of at least $100,000.00.

      • mouf says:

        Those are the cities who have players making multiple million, as well. Quite different situations in those locker rooms

  12. Carlos says:

    The top 10 paid players in Mexico make about 20 mill a year combined with Chupete Suazo being the highest paid at around 3 mill.
    How does this compare with MLS ?
    Increase the cap or redistribute the wealth?

    • Anthony says:

      Mexico is better because there isn’t as large a disparity. If you are a top 5 player, you want to be in the MLS, otherwise you want to be in Mexico because you will make more. That is more important because the core of your starting team is made up of your top 3rd/ top half and they make more in Liga MX

  13. ilikefreddyyesadu says:

    Charlie Davies at 78k is a sad reminder how his life changed in an instant.

    • solles says:

      the fact that hes playing it all is an absolute miracle. I’d say he has much to be thankful for.

    • The Zimmer says:

      LOL, really brah? I’m sure the dead woman in that car would trade for that “sad reminder”… also remember he did sue for $20 million. He still married his college girlfriend, so how many millions would you prefer he was earning?

      • Nate Dollars says:

        think he referred to the $78k more as a reflection of charlie’s lost potential, not strictly the $ amount.

        and i don’t know what to make of your ‘college girlfriend’ comment. maybe i missed something.

  14. JayAre says:

    Graham Zusi and Matt Beasler better play their hearts out at the WC and cash out after. Omar’s salary surprised me a little and I was shocked to that LA pays Leonardo, He plays like he’s doing them a favor

    • Aaron in SF says:

      No way that Omar is $1M better than Besler. You’d hope that Besler and Zusi can step up their salaries post-WC, especially as they near the peak earning years of their careers.

      Luis Gil is doing pretty well for a guy that age, shows how much the league values him. Imagine any transfer fee would have to be pretty hefty for them to accept.

      • mouf says:

        Collin and Besler are both better than Omar. SKC will have trouble affording (like cap-wise) both going forward

  15. Birgit Calhoun says:

    It’s a shame that when it comes to players’ salaries per minute played, there are is such a discrepancy even in the same team. A team is supposed to be a team. I can only presume that the managers who are willing to pay that much are not really clear about which players are really good among those who have not achieved star power.

  16. nephi says:

    I agree with allot of these statements come join our podcast and lets keep this up.

    link to

  17. AcidBurn says:

    $373K for Eckersley? Highway robbery. I can imagine he begins salary negotiations with “you know, I used to play for MANCHESTER UNITED”

  18. UclaBruinGreat says:

    The Million Dollar Club:
    1. Dempsey $6,695,189
    2. Bradley $6,500,000
    3. Defoe $6,180,000
    4. Donovan $4,583,333
    5. Keane $4,500,000
    6. Henry $4,350,000
    7. Cahill $3,625,000
    8. Di Vaio $2,600,000
    9. Martins $1,753,333
    10. Morales $1,410,900
    11. Gonzalez $1,250,000
    12. Gilberto $1,205,000

    The Big Spenders (total salary):
    1. Totonto FC $16,648,855
    2. LA Galaxy $13,054,243
    3. Seattle $11,787,583
    4. NYRB $11,245,283

  19. Bo says:

    I can’t believe Wondo is only at 600K. That is a huge steal for SJ.

    • ji says:

      should have gone abroad. could be making 1-2 million in the Premier League

      • Ali Dia says:

        Did you see any suitors? Nothing against Wondo… I think he’s good for a few goals in the right spot… but I have never heard of an EPL team bidding for his 31 year old @ss. Or even his 29 year old @ass a couple years ago. He’s a good player and a great poacher and I like him, but EPL teams aren’t in the biz of buying 30-ish American strikers w no European experience.

  20. Bruted says:

    KC, Portland and RSL apparently have the best front offices in the league. Is there another professional league where results seem to be less of a function of salary than MLS?

    Seriously, if I were to throw all the names on that list into a hat and have teams draft them, and then correlate the order of the players selected with the salaries on that list, I would bet my life that the correlation is 30-40% at best. It really makes me appreciate soccer a bit more, in that small market teams can actually compete without dumping millions into the best players.

  21. Don says:

    Do you recall that Toronto passed on Dempsey because they thought it “in the best interests of the league for him, an American, to play in the US”. Apparently, this did not apply to Bradley. Face it the whole thing was rigged by MLS.

  22. Bobert says:

    MLS wage structure is a joke

  23. ji says:

    it’s amazing that youth players even aspire to play in MLS

    getting like 30 K a season as opposed to making tons more in Europe

    • ji says:

      the salary cap needs to be increased from 3 million now to 5 million by 2020

      it has to be done and then say 10 million by 2030 if not sooner

      some fear the league will implode. it won’t . it’s been around for nearly 20 years. it’s not going away. tons of americans follow Spanish and English football teams half a world away. if we brought the money and the stars here, they’d support local teams and homegrown players. it will happen. we just have to be patient. gone are the days of having 5,000 fans attending games in stadiums for 60,000 people.

      • Anthony says:

        The next collective bargaining agreement renegotiation is in 2015 I believe. It should go up to $5million if they do not want to start to loose their best players to Liga MX. If you are a great youth player in Southern Cali, Liga MX looks more attractive.

  24. ZTom says:

    Pure union propaganda….fanbois, learn something each and every day: figures lie, and liars figure…got it? These figures from the union, boasted by Ives, are pure b.s., totally and completely.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      thank god you’re here…can you please point the way to the real numbers?

    • Annelid Gustator says:

      Who you gonna believe? MLS Player’s Union, or some rando who pretends inside knowledge?

    • A says:

      Terrible spelling. Random, unrelated union conspiracy about salary figures none the less. Stuff about skewed polls.

      Rove, is that you?

  25. Dr.Bombay says:

    Let’s play the fun game called : “MY TEAM HAS NO MONEY!”
    Houston Dynamo total team salary (based on 2014 guaranteed compensation)
    = 3,660,713

    With the highest paid player, Brad Davis making 392K

    Any teams lower?
    Chivas and New England fans?

  26. Dr.Bombay says:

    Holy Guacamole Batman

    Chivas @ $2,859,257
    Revs @ $3,432,418

  27. Dr.Bombay says:

    —–From ESPNFC ——
    Team/Player Compensation
    Toronto FC $16,648,858
    Los Angeles Galaxy $13,054,244
    Seattle Sounders $11,787,587
    New York Red Bulls $11,245,784
    Clint Dempsey, $6,695,189
    Michael Bradley, $6,500,000
    Jermain Defoe $6,180,00
    Vancouver Caps $6,150,437
    Montreal Impact $6,067,139
    FC Dallas $4,645,279
    Landon Donovan, $4,583,333
    Robbie Keane $4,500,000
    Thierry Henry $4,350,000
    San Jose Quakes $4,327,176
    Philadelphia Union $4,231,924
    D.C. United $4,098,050
    Portland Timbers $3,922,328
    Real Salt Lake $3,831,635
    Sporting Kansas City $3,731,612
    Columbus Crew $3,687,507
    Houston Dynamo $3,660,715
    Chicago Fire $3,631,411
    Tim Cahill $3,625,000
    Colorado Rapids $3,488,901
    New England Revs $3,432,422
    Chivas USA $3,292,674

  28. Dr.Bombay says:

    Chivas correct @ $3,292, 674
    Total team salary less than 1/2 Dempsey’s.salary.

  29. Scott e Dio93 says:

    I have no problem Wondo and Alonso salaries, but I do have a problem both Wondo and Alonso being DPs. DP salary should be at least $750k. While making Gonzalez a DP with that salary = idiotic move, Gonzalez isn’t top three defenders or a top draw in MLS, or well known name International.