Major League Soccer’s Players Association released this week the salaries of every athlete competing in the league in the 2018 season. As MLS is one of the few leagues in the world to operate with a salary cap and several roster restrictions, it’s always interesting to take a look at the numbers.
It’s particularly intriguing analyzing Orlando City SC’s salaries, as the Lions made a significant revamp of their roster coming into the season and getting the accurate numbers on each player helps to complete the puzzle and understand how each piece fits together in the complicated process that is complying with all the regulations.
Here are some interesting notes regarding the Lions’ salaries.
Dwyer Tops the List
The document confirmed that Dom Dwyer is the highest-paid player on Orlando City’s roster, which was somewhat expected. The 27-year-old forward makes almost $1.4 million this season, approximately $300,000 more than midfielder Sacha Kljestan. The value is not high if compared to some of the main stars around the league and is even more modest in comparison to Kaká’s salaries over the last three seasons, but is on par with strikers with similar reputation and production, such as New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips, Atlanta United’s Josef Martínez, and LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (just kidding!).
Starting Center Backs at a Premium
After years of intense defensive struggle, the Lions apparently decided to open their pockets to fix the problem. Signed in 2018, Lamine Sané is the fourth-highest paid center back in the entire league at $855,000, behind LA Galaxy’s Jorgen Skjelvik, New England Revolution’s Claude Dielna, and Columbus Crew SC’s Jonathan Mensah. Making nearly $640,000, Jonathan Spector, who joined the team last season, is 16th on the list and only two other teams — the Portland Timbers and the Montreal Impact — have two center backs among the top 16.
Higuita Making Big Bucks
One of the most intriguing salaries on the list is Cristian Higuita’s. Playing for the Lions since the team debuted in MLS, the Colombian earns the sixth-highest figure of the entire roster at $581,000. Only Dwyer, Kljestan, Sané, Spector and Yoshimar Yotún have higher wages than the 24-year-old defensive midfielder, who has gone in and out of the Lions’ starting lineup and has toggled good performances with disappointing ones over the course of the last year. His original deal was back-loaded and it’s nice to see him emerging as a player at a time his salary is rising.
A Raise is Coming Soon
Two players who are in a similar range as Higuita’s — Yotún, who makes $600,000, and Justin Meram, signed to a contract of $578,000 — both seem poised to get significant raises when they negotiate their next deals. One of the reasons Meram left Crew SC was his desire for a better contract and with Yotún becoming a World Cup player in a month’s time, it’s expected that they’ll both cost the Lions a few more bucks if they were to stay with the club after their current deals expire. Currently, they make less than midfielders such as Benny Feilhaber (LAFC), Ager Aketxe (Toronto FC), Victor Rodriguez (Seattle Sounders), Damir Kreilach (Real Salt Lake), and Stefan Aigner (Colorado Rapids).
The Five-Digit Club
Eleven players on Orlando City’s roster make less than $100,000 per season. Most of them are still on their rookie contracts, such as forward Chris Mueller, midfielders Cam Lindley and Pierre Da Silva — the lowest salary at $55,000 — and goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr. Some of them, however, are veterans who are getting decent playing time, such as center back Amro Tarek ($88,000) and fullback RJ Allen ($90,000).