Unlike in European Soccer Leagues, the American Major League Soccer (MLS), just like in the other major American leagues, players’ salaries are published.

What are the player salaries in the Major League Soccer?

Here is a list of the reports from the last years:

The lists are provided by the MLSPA, the Players Association of football players in the MLS.

A distinction is made between:

1. Current Annualized Base Salary
2. Annualized average guaranteed compensation

Current Annualized Base Salary: This includes the basic salary including all guaranteed bonuses such as the signing bonus. These are then annualized over the contract term including possible options.

Example: A player has a basic salary of 100,000 dollars, with a 3-year contract with an additional option year and a signing bonus of 50,000 dollars. The “Current Annualized Base Salary” is therefore 112,500 (100,000 + (50,000/4).

Annualized average guaranteed compensation: Here we add further guaranteed salary components such as the agent fee or the marketing bonus. Only the guaranteed salary components are mentioned here.

The salary system in Major League Soccer (MLS) – An overview

The salary system in the MLS differs enormously from the system we know in the European leagues. We want to give you a short overview of the special features in the MLS.

Salary Cap – Team: In MLS there is a so-called salary cap. This means that only 4.24 million US dollars per team could be spent on the so-called “Senior Roster” with up to 20 players. The salary must be distributed to a minimum of 18 players.

Salary Cap – Player: The maximum salary of an MLS player may only be 530.000 US Dollar. The minimum salary is 70.250 US Dollar.

The Designated Player Rule: This rule allows clubs to sign players to whom the salary cap rules do not apply. For example, the salary of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was not at the maximum cap of 530,000 US dollars but at 7.2 million US dollars. Prominent examples: David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Kaka, Robbie Keane, David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney. There were a total of 209 Designated Players in the MLS in the year 2019, with up to three such players per team. The background is obvious: The league is to be made more attractive with foreign players from Europe.

TAM and GAM: Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) and General Allocation Money (GAM) gives the clubs more possibilities to pay the players more than the normal Salary Cup.

Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): The regulations are laid down in the so-called Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which then existed for a certain time. These CBA’s are negotiated by the Player’s Association and the league, just like in other US sports. Here between the MLSPA (Major League Player Association) and the MLS directly. The current CBA is not yet available, but there is an overview here.