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How 2016 MLS salaries compare to NHL, MLB and NBA

We all know that Major League Soccer's players aren't getting rich, for the most part. They make less than the men playing soccer in Europe's big leagues; they make less than the men playing football, basketball, baseball, and hockey in North America. But just how much less can be hard to determine.

Unlike in MLS, players' unions for most professional sports leagues tend not to publish their members' salary data. Luckily for us, there are a few leagues in North America where data is available, either from a players union or from legal documents and agents.

Sources: MLS Players' Union, NHL Players' Association, ESPN, USA Today

While the salaries of MLS's highest paid players would fit in nicely with those of any of the other leagues shown above, the vast majority of players in MLS are making substantially less than their counterparts in the NBA, NHL, and MLB. In fact, more than 75 percent of the players in MLS are making less than the league minimums for both the MLB and NHL. You can see this better in the graph below, which shows the above data on a logarithmic scale.

Data on other professional soccer leagues like the Premier League, Liga MX, and Spain's La Liga can be much tougher to find, but in 2014 the Daily Mail reported that MLS ranked 22nd in player compensation, just behind Greece's Super League and Denmark's Superliga. Forbes estimates that Cristiano Ronaldo makes over $50 million a year in salary and winnings.

Of course in mentioning how little MLS players make relative to other professional athletes, it should be noted that athletes in the NWSL make even less. The minimum salary in the NWSL is $7,200, which is nowhere near a living wage, even if the NWSL season is about half as long as MLS's. Another interesting statistic is that it costs about $2,838 for the Against Malaria Foundation to save a child's life, which is around what Clint Dempsey makes every five and a half hours.

You can view complete information on the Sounders' salaries here.

League Average Minimum 1st quartile Median 3rd quartile Maximum
MLB $4,387,378.00 $507,500.00 $520,000.00 $1,500,000.00 $6,000,000.00 $33,000,000.00
MLS $316,777.30 $51,492.00 $68,567.50 $117,000.00 $240,000.00 $7,167,500.00
NBA $4,833,624.00 $30,888.00 $1,170,960.00 $2,854,940.00 $6,500,000.00 $25,000,000.00
NHL $2,575,463.00 $575,000.00 $813,837.00 $1,475,000.00 $4,000,000.00 $14,000,000.00

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