No team has started better than the Seattle Sounders. They lead the Supporters’ Shield race with 13 points, have the best points per game (2.6), have scored the most goals (11), have the best goal-difference (+9) and have allowed the fewest goals (2, neither of which came from open play).
They could have the highest wage bill in the league and still feel as though they were spending wisely. In reality, the salary data released by the MLS players’ union on Thursday reveals that the Sounders are spending the 12th most on salaries.
Notably, these figures don’t take transfer fees into account and MLS salary accounting is notoriously questionable, but whether the Sounders rank 7th or 17th in actual spending they are getting great value.
Corner of the Galaxy actually broke down how each team ranks in salary spending at each position and the Sounders weren’t any higher than 10th at any of them. Where they really stand out, though, is on defense. The Sounders are actually spending less on defender salaries than any other team in the league, despite having the best defense by just about every metric.
It should be noted that the Sounders did spend about $3-$4 million on transfer fees for Xavier Arreaga and Yeimar Gomez-Andrade, so that’s probably another $1 million that you can tack onto their annual spending. This accounting also doesn’t include Jordy Delem and Jimmy Medranda, both of whom are likely lumped in with midfielders and collectively make about $400,000. Even adding those two figures, the Sounders would still rank no higher than 15th in the league and would likely be much lower if similar adjustments were made to other teams.
When you break down the individual salaries of Seattle’s defenders, this is not particularly surprising. While Arreaga, Gomez-Andrade and Brad Smith each hit the cap at at least $500,000 a year, fellow starters Nouhou, Alex Roldan and Shane O’Neill each make less than $170,000 a year.
When you consider the Sounders shed about $2 million from their books when they parted ways with a host of veterans over the offseason, the salary cap maneuverings are impressive.