MLS Salaries: The 20 Highest Paid Players

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MLS—Major League Soccer—is looking to establish itself as a top-notch professional soccer league that can compete with the likes of English Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga. The league has made some inroads, like agreeing to a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with the players. In the new CBA, players will receive raises in the minimum salary and will be given increased benefits. 

With two new teams this season and four more teams arriving in the next two years, MLS is looking toward expansion and is showing a commitment towards acquiring some of the top soccer talents from around the world. As MLS teams have acquired more high-profile players from overseas, individual player salaries have risen, leading to a collection of heavy hitters raking in the dough. From Jozy Altidore to Chicharito, here are the highest-paid players in the MLS.

20. Johnny Russell, Sporting KC - Base Salary: $1.45 million

After signing a three-year contract in 2018 with Sporting Kansas City, Russell has amassed 19 career goals in two seasons. The Scotsman is the highest-paid player on the team and it makes sense, as he has come up big in crucial moments for Kansas City.

19. Valeri "Vako" Qazaishvili, San Jose Earthquakes - Base Salary: $1.47 million

Though he’s had his ups and downs with San Jose, Vako has found his groove with the club. Benched in the middle of last season, he figured out how to get back on the field and ran off a stretch of six goals in eight games. The highest-paid player on the Earthquakes, a lot is expected of the midfielder.

18. Felipe Gutierrez, Sporting KC - Base Salary: $1.60 million

The 29-year old Gutierrez had 12 goals and three assists last season. Acquired as a designated player by Sporting Kansas City in 2018, Gutierrez is signed through 2020 with an option in 2021. The Chilean-born Midfielder could be a highly sought after player in the near future.

17. Darwin Quintero, Houston Dynamo - Base Salary: $1.75 million

Known as El Científico del Gol or the Goal Scientist, Darwin Quintero is one of the best goal scorers in MLS. Now with the Houston Dynamo, Quintero is looking to help Houston make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. In the past two years, Quintero scored 21 goals and contributed 20 assists for Minnesota United. He was responsible for 40 percent of Minnesota’s goals in that stretch.

16. Albert Rusnak, Real Salt Lake - Base Salary: $1.80 million

The Slovakian Rusnak is an integral part of Real Salt Lake. With 27 career goals through three years in MLS play, Rusnak has shown what value he provides. He’s also tough as nails. Last season, Rusnak scored two goals in a game against FC Cincinnati after he dislocated his left ring finger early in the match.

15. Maxi Moralez, New York City FC - Base Salary: $2.00 million

Standing just 5’3”, Maxi Moralez might lack the height of his peers, but he compensates for his stature with elite soccer skills. Last season, Moralez led the entire MLS with 20 assists. Born and raised in Argentina, Moralez is staying in the Big Apple after he signed a two-year contract extension. With the way he cuts hair, Moralez might need a raise.

14. Jonathan dos Santos, LA Galaxy - Base Salary: $2.00 million

After a strong career overseas that saw him play well for Villareal CF and FC Barcelona, Jonathan dos Santos was acquired in 2017 by the Los Angeles Galaxy. A Midfielder, dos Santos is a two-time All-Star with a versatile skill set.

13. Nicolas Lodeiro, Seattle Sounders FC - Base Salary: $2.00 million

An attacking Midfielder, Lodeiro has been a success in the MLS since he won Newcomer of the Year in 2016. From Uruguay, Lodeiro has been an important factor in two MLS Cup Championships for Seattle. An All-Star this past season, the 31-year old Lodeiro has 26 goals in his regular-season career.

12. Raul Ruidiaz, Seattle Sounders FC - Base Salary: $2.00 million

Acquired as a Designated Player in a transfer, Ruidiaz came up clutch in the playoffs as he scored four goals in Seattle’s run to the MLS Cup. One of the top forwards in MLS, Ruidiaz has had a definitive role and impact in Seattle’s success.

11. Gustavo Bou, New England Revolution - Base Salary: $2.10 million

Signed by the Revolution in the Second Transfer Window in the middle of last season, Gustavo Bou has been a key addition to the Revolution’s recent success. A versatile player, Bou had nine goals in just 14 games as the Revolution qualified for the MLS playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

10. Carles Gil, New England Revolution - Base Salary: $2.10 million

The captain of the Revolution, Carles Gil immediately stepped into a prominent role in his first MLS season. After time spent in Spain and England, the 27-year old was named MLS Newcomer of the Year last season. A dynamic force for the Revolution, Gil led the club in goals (ten) and assists (14).

9. Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers - Base Salary: $2.32 million

Valeri has had a really strong seven-year run with the Timbers franchise. A top-ten player in terms of base salary, Valeri has accumulated numerous awards and accomplishments. A former MLS MVP, Valeri famously led the Timbers to an MLS Cup victory in 2015, where he scored the fastest goal in MLS Cup history.

8. Nani, Orlando City SC - Base Salary: $2.33 million

An OG in the MLS, the 33-year old Nani is in his second season in MLS. An All-Star in his first season, Nani got the job done, leading Orlando both in goals (ten) and assists (12). Famous for his time with Manchester United, Orlando is hoping that the signing of Nani can elevate the franchise to its first playoff appearance.

7. Sebastian Blanco, Portland Timbers - Base Salary: $2.74 million

A central cog in Portland’s offense, Blanco has recorded 11 assists in back-to-back seasons. His skills in the kitchen aren’t too shabby either. The Midfielder owns a pizzeria back in his native Argentina.

6. Josef Martinez, Atlanta United - Base Salary: $3.00 million

Martinez’s season ended abruptly after he tore his ACL in Atlanta United’s season opener. His presence will be sorely missed. Martinez scored 58 combined goals in the past two seasons and was the first MLS player to win All-Star, regular season and MLS Cup MVP honors in the same season. Though his season is likely over, the 26-year old Martinez still has a long career ahead of him. One thing we do know is that Martinez’ unorthodox penalty kicks will be missed.

5. Alejandro Pozuelo, Toronto FC - Base Salary: $3.80 million

Toronto FC signed Pozuelo last year after he transferred from KRC Genk. Pozuelo hit the ground running, scoring two goals in his MLS debut. Overall, he scored 12 goals in 30 games last season as Toronto made it all the way to the MLS Cup game before falling to the Seattle Sounders. Expected to be a legitimate MVP candidate this season, Pozuelo might need to renegotiate his contract.

4. Carlos Vela, LAFC - Base Salary: $4.50 million

The 2019 MLS Most Valuable Player, Vela is one of the best goal scorers that MLS has to offer. He earned the Golden Boot last year after recording an MLS record 34 goals. A two-time All-Star in MLS, Vela led LAFC to the best mark in the MLS regular season and helped the team get all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

3. Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC - Base Salary: $4.89 million

A two-time All-Star and MLS champion, Altidore is one of the most decorated players in the MLS. Altidore is a key part of the lethal Toronto FC attack. Using a mixture of strength and quickness, he’s managed to reach top-30 all-time in total goals scored in MLS history and is not stopping any time soon.

2. Michael Bradley, Toronto FC - Base Salary: $6.00 million

Bradley could miss up to four months after having surgery on his right ankle. Though he will have some time to recuperate after the MLS season was put on pause, It’s a major loss for Toronto. The captain of Toronto’s squad and an MLS champion, Bradley has been a constant for a team that has made the playoffs in four of the six seasons he’s been with the club.

1. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, LA Galaxy - Base Salary: $7.20 million

After Zlatan Ibrahimovic left the LA Galaxy to join AC Milan, the Galaxy responded by bringing in the ultimate goalscorer, Chicharito. The Galaxy reportedly paid a fee of $10 million to acquire the elite striker. The highest-paid player in MLS, Chicharito faces some pressure to live up to Zlatan’s reputation, but he should be up to the task. Through a 14-year career, he has recorded 156 career goals and amassed awards like the CONCACAF Gold Cup Golden Boot and MVP in 2011.

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