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New MLS salary data reveals some deep hometown discounts

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Sounders only spent about $350,000 on their three veteran offseason signings.

Seattle Sounders FC v Portland Timbers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

For the first time in two seasons, the MLS Player’s Association released the salary guide for its players.

Normally a bi-yearly occurrence, the 2020 salary guide was not released last year. Initially pushed back over the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, the ongoing worldwide pandemic further delayed its release as the season was temporarily suspended in March 2020.

Because the initial CBA was never ratified, during the pause, MLS went back to the MLSPA and demanded concessions, which included an across-the-board pay cut, among other things. The league was able to complete the 2020 season, at which point MLS invoked a Force Majeure clause and forced a third acrimonious negotiation last winter. The parties were able to come to terms on long term deal in February. A part of the release today, the MLSPA also disclosed the salary guide for 2020.

For the 2021 Sounders, they look to have benefitted from a team original coming back on a significant hometown discount. Fredy Montero, who joined the team for its inaugural season and became one of the most productive players in team history, is playing this year on what is essentially the senior minimum salary, at $81,375.

In fact, all three of the Sounders veteran offseason signings — all of whom had ties to the region — signed team-friendly deals. Kelyn Rowe, who has started the last three games and played in all five, is now making about $180,000 after making about twice that in previous years. Spencer Richey, who might now be the starting goalkeeper, is also making the same veteran minimum as Montero.

Other notable contracts include Brad Smith who has seen his pay increase to a Targeted Allocation Money range at $566,250 after being paid about $122,000 in total compensation last year. João Paulo checks in with a salary of just over $1 million, which would make him TAM eligible but for his transfer fee. Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerway has indicated that Paulo’s salary could be eligible to be bought down next year. Nouhou received a decent pay raise from about $120,000 to $170,000 but even that is a bargain for a player who’s performing like one of the best defenders in MLS this year.

Sounders 2021 salaries

Player Position 2021 Base salary 2021 Guaranteed compensation 2020 Base salary 2020 Guaranteed compensation % Change
Player Position 2021 Base salary 2021 Guaranteed compensation 2020 Base salary 2020 Guaranteed compensation % Change
Total $12,162,401.00 $13,591,129.00 -10.51%
Nouhou Tolo D $125,000.00 $169,274.00 $88,200.00 $108,200.00 56.45%
Brad Smith D $525,000.00 $566,250.00 $81,375.00 $122,625.00 361.77%
Raul Ruidiaz F $2,100,000.00 $2,100,000.00 $2,040,000.00 $2,040,000.00 2.94%
Kelyn Rowe M $180,000.00 $180,000.00 $310,610.00 $310,610.00 -42.05%
Alex Roldan M-D $93,581.00 $93,581.00 $81,375.00 $81,375.00 15.00%
Cristian Roldan M $760,000.00 $881,542.00 $660,000.00 $781,542.00 12.80%
Spencer Richey GK $81,375.00 $81,375.00 $81,375.00 $81,375.00 0.00%
Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez F $81,375.00 $95,875.00 $63,547.00 $78,047.00 22.84%
Shane O'Neill D $115,000.00 $115,000.00 $81,375.00 $81,375.00 41.32%
Trey Muse GK $81,375.00 $90,125.00 $73,763.00 $82,513.00 9.23%
Jordan Morris F $1,150,000.00 $1,270,100.00 $1,000,000.00 $1,120,100.00 13.39%
Fredy Montero F $81,375.00 $81,375.00 $1,048,000.00 $1,248,000.00 -93.48%
Joao Paulo Mior M $1,000,000.00 $1,050,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $1,050,000.00 0.00%
Jimmy Medranda M-D $180,000.00 $190,000.00 $170,504.00 $170,504.00 11.43%
Nicolas Lodeiro M $2,120,000.00 $2,736,667.00 $2,120,000.00 $2,622,500.00 4.35%
Danny Leyva M $81,375.00 $100,798.00 $63,547.00 $83,052.00 21.37%
Shandon Hopeau M $66,724.00 $74,360.00 $63,547.00 $71,183.00 4.46%
Yeimar Gomez Andrade D $300,000.00 $387,000.00 $275,000.00 $362,000.00 6.91%
Stefan Frei GK $500,000.00 $500,000.00 $500,000.00 $512,500.00 -2.44%
Ethan Dobbelaere M $67,360.00 $81,360.00 $63,547.00 $77,547.00 4.92%
Jordy Delem M-D $175,000.00 $194,000.00 $160,000.00 $179,000.00 8.38%
Stefan Cleveland GK $96,375.00 $96,375.00 $81,375.00 $81,375.00 18.43%
Will Bruin F $450,000.00 $458,333.00 $425,000.00 $433,333.00 5.77%
Joshua Atencio M $63,547.00 $68,161.00 $63,547.00 $68,162.00 0.00%
Xavier Arreaga D $393,600.00 $500,850.00 $393,600.00 $500,850.00 0.00%