April 10, 2014, TORONTO (ISN) – The lid has been lifted a little on the cost of Toronto FC’s rebirth. Figures released Thursday by the MLS Players Union show that Toronto is home to three of the 12 players in the league making million-dollar-plus salaries in 2014.
Seattle Sounders striker Clint Dempsey is the league’s highest-paid player at $6.695 million (all figures U.S.). Two Toronto players are next with U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley at $6.5 million and England striker Jermain Defoe at $6.18 million.
Los Angeles Galaxy players ranked fourth and fifth with forward Landon Donovan listed at $4.583 million and Irish striker Robbie Keane at $4.5 million.
Two New York Red Bulls are next: French striker Thierry Henry at $4.35 million and Australian midfielder Tim Cahill at $3.625.
Montreal forward Marco Di Vaio is the highest-paid Impact player at $2.6 million (eighth in the league) while midfielder Pedro Morales leads the Vancouver Whitecaps at $1.41 million (10th).
Toronto’s Brazilian striker Gilberto makes $1.2 million (12th).
The TFC spending spree is paying dividends with Toronto (3-1-0) currently second in the Eastern Conference standings. The team managed only six wins in 2013 when it went 6-17-11.
Tim Leiweke, CEO and president of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, has said the soccer club will lose money this season because of the outlay, however.
The other million-dollar-plus earners are Seattle forward Obafemi Martins ($1.753 million, ninth) and Los Angeles defender Omar Gonzalez ($125 million, 11th).
All 12 are designated players, meaning that only $387,500 of their pay counts against their club’s $3.1-million salary cap.
Thanks to the league’s complicated rules, the salaries may be larger than listed. Teams can used so-called allocation money to buy down player salaries.
MLS rules state: “Clubs have the option of’buying down’ the budget charge of a designated player with allocation money. The reduced charge may not be less than $150,000.”
And it’s safe to assume that Julio Cesar, the Brazilian international goalkeeper on loan with Toronto from Queens Park Rangers, is not having to scrape by on a mere $202,000. QPR is no doubt topping up his bank account big-time.
Still the union salary figures offer a look at a league of haves and have not’s.
Mark Bloom, a 26-year-old fullback who has played every minute of Toronto’s first four games, is listed as making $48,825. On the plus side, Bloom’s salary was $46,500 last season.
The extra money will come in handy now that Bloom’s wife is expecting their first child.
To put Bradley’s and Defoe’s $6-million-plus 2014 salaries in perspective, Toronto Maple Leafs stars Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf signed eight-year, $64-million and seven year, $49-million contract extensions, respectively, earlier this season.
Phaneuf is making $5.5 million this season while Kessel is getting $5.4 million.
Raptors forward Amir Johnson, another member of the MLSE family, reportedly makes the same money as Bradley at $6.5 million.
That’s some $6 million more than Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray reportedly will make this season and he’s the highest-paid player in the CFL.
Veteran Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario, who rejoined Toronto FC during the off-season, is listed at $173,000. That’s down from the $645,333 he got last year with D.C. United.
Toronto captain Steven Caldwell’s listed salary is $364,167 while Vancouver skipper Jay DeMerit is at $2457,500 and Montreal captain Patrice Bernier makes $205,000.
Canadian international midfielder Will Johnson, who captains the Portland Timbers, is listed at $325,000.
Newly acquired Impact striker Jack McInerney is making $294,167 while Vancouver forward Kenny Miller is at $940,000, down from $1.25 million a year ago.
Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osorio got a healthy raise, moving to $142,600 from $46,500. Goalie Joe Bendik went to $147,375 from $46,500, only to lose his starting job to Cesar.
U.S. international midfielder Graham Zusi, at $398,250, is the highest-paid member of defending champion Sporting Kansas City. But he is also one of six players making more than $200,000 on the roster. Toronto has five players above $200,000.
MLS has a ways to go to catch other leagues. Barcelona pays Argentine star Lionel Messi more than $21 million a year, according to Forbes magazine.
The MLS union numbers include the player’s base salary and all signing and guaranteed bonuses annualized over the term of the player’s contract, including option years.
It does not include performance bonuses.