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MLS Salaries Released: The Union are big spenders on defense



Photo by Carl Gulbish

The season’s first edition of Major League Soccer players’ compensation has been released by the Major League Soccer Players Association. There’s a lot to dig into with respect to the Union. First of all, exactly how big was the raise did Kai Wagner get? And how much of a pay cut did club legend Alejandro Bedoya take?

But let’s start with the big picture first. The current numbers show that the Union are set to spend $14.8 million in guaranteed compensation for this season. This ranks 24th in a league of 29 teams. The good news, I guess, is that the Union moved up one spot from the end of last year.

Nevertheless, this low ranking is unsatisfying when looking at Sportico’s estimate of league revenues, which rank the Union 10th in 2023. The small time Union don’t appear so small time. For the Union to rank 10th in the league in player compensation they’d need to spend an additional $2 million a year. Seems like a reasonable stretch to be able to match revenues with salaries.

The Union did actually grow their payroll by 10% year-over-year, which was significantly more than the paltry league average of 4% per team. Side note: Is MLS trying to grow with GDP? 4%? Pretty pathetic on the back of the “big” deal with Apple TV.

The year’s biggest raise didn’t actually go to Kai Wagner. The biggest raise went to Daniel Gazdag, whose compensation went from $1.35 million to $1.76 million. Wagner should be happy though. He’s now at $1.03 million this year, which is a raise of roughly $300 thousand.

Bedoya did take one on the chin, which makes sense given his limited role with the, er wait, he’s basically a starter isn’t he? His compensation was $1.06 million last year and now he’s down to $450 thousand. No justice there.

One more interesting tidbit is the Union’s commitment to defense, at least when it comes to payroll. The Union rank 4th in expenditure on defensive positions (backline and goalkeeping), spending $6 million on that area of the pitch. That strategy doesn’t appear to be working this year as only six teams have given up more goals than the Union. Interestingly enough, MLS Cup holders the Columbus Crew rank 29th in spending on defense. No justice there.

Here’s a look at the full roster:

First Name Last Name Club Position(s) Base Salary Guaranteed Compensation
Mikael Uhre Philadelphia Union Center Forward $1,800,000 $2,040,000
Dániel Gazdag Philadelphia Union Attacking Midfield $1,600,000 $1,757,500
Jakob Glesnes Philadelphia Union Center-back $1,000,000 $1,138,125
Kai Wagner Philadelphia Union Left-back $875,000 $1,032,500
Julián Carranza Philadelphia Union Center Forward $1,000,000 $1,000,000
Andre Blake Philadelphia Union Goalkeeper $800,000 $919,375
Jack Elliott Philadelphia Union Center-back $800,000 $893,750
Tai Baribo Philadelphia Union Center Forward $650,000 $760,000
José Martínez Philadelphia Union Defensive Midfield $600,000 $674,167
Alejandro Bedoya Philadelphia Union Central Midfield $324,996 $449,996
Olivier Mbaizo Philadelphia Union Right-back $350,000 $423,589
Joaquín Torres Philadelphia Union Right Wing $300,000 $349,800
Damion Lowe Philadelphia Union Center-back $300,000 $343,333
Leon Flach Philadelphia Union Central Midfield $300,000 $314,500
Jesús Bueno Philadelphia Union Defensive Midfield $280,000 $312,625
Olwethu Makhanya Philadelphia Union Center-back $225,000 $263,875
Nathan Harriel Philadelphia Union Right-back $240,000 $262,050
Jack McGlynn Philadelphia Union Central Midfield $200,000 $226,533
Brandan Craig Philadelphia Union Center-back $160,000 $172,825
Matt Real Philadelphia Union Left-back $155,000 $171,500
Quinn Sullivan Philadelphia Union Right Midfield $150,000 $153,500
Richard Odada Philadelphia Union Central Midfield $110,000 $130,300
Chris Donovan Philadelphia Union Center Forward $89,716 $109,872
Jeremy Rafanello Philadelphia Union Attacking Midfield $100,000 $107,636
Oliver Semmle Philadelphia Union Goalkeeper $89,716 $106,040
Markus Anderson Philadelphia Union Left Wing $100,000 $102,000
Jamir Berdecio Philadelphia Union Right-back $89,716 $97,910
Holden Trent Philadelphia Union Goalkeeper $89,716 $89,716
Sanders Ngabo Philadelphia Union Central Midfield $71,401 $87,986
David Vazquez Philadelphia Union Left Wing $71,401 $87,281
Nelson Pierre Philadelphia Union Center Forward $71,401 $85,517
Isaiah LeFlore Philadelphia Union Left-back $71,401 $80,764
Nick Pariano Philadelphia Union Attacking Midfield $71,401 $76,594


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