It's that time of the year again. The MLS Player's Union has released the complete list of 2013 player salaries opening the door for the annual tradition of salary budget speculation and number crunching. Of course, as always one must qualify these numbers by stating that what you see here isn't always the exact amount that is attributed against the salary budget for each team. MLS isn't ponying up with corrections or actual amounts anytime soon but you can get a general idea of where a team might stand in relation to the overall budget. However, allocation, loan deals, and player-specific contract terms always muddy the waters when trying to see through the not so transparent window of MLS accounting.
The salary budget for each MLS club this season is $2,950,000.00 for players 1-20 on the roster. Here's a complete guess at where the Fire might stand (the first number is the listed salary followed by guaranteed compensation):
1.Alex M $ 110,000.00 $ 119,950.00
2.Atouba Yazid F $ 46,500.00 $ 51,500.00
3.Anibaba Jalil D $ 91,245.00 $ 131,245.00
4.Berry Austin D $ 63,425.00 $ 78,425.00
5.Bone Corben M $ 46,500.00 $ 49,000.00
6.Santos Maicon F $ 157,000.00 $ 164,433.33
7.Duka Dilly M $ 140,000.00 $ 273,000.00
8.Friedrich Arne D $ 300,000.00 $ 367,500.00
9.Johnson Sean GK $ 120,000.00 $ 153,000.00
10.Larentowicz Jeff D $ 225,000.00 $ 231,000.00
11.Lindpere Joel M $ 180,000.00 $ 205,000.00
12.MacDonald Sherjill F $ 400,000.00 $ 527,125.00
13.Nyarko Patrick F $ 230,000.00 $ 249,500.00
14.Paladini Daniel M $ 86,625.00 $ 91,103.25
15.Pause Logan M $ 180,000.00 $ 197,833.33
16.Rolfe Chris F $ 225,000.00 $ 248,333.33
17.Segares Gonzalo D $ 155,000.00 $ 155,000.00
18.Thompson Wells M $ 105,000.00 $ 113,125.00
Players 1-20 make up the "on budget" totals or the amounts which count against the cap. Teams can leave two slots open for additional players and for the purpose of this exercise let's assume the Fire has two "on budget" spots open. This brings the total value in guaranteed compensation for the "on budget" players to $3,247,127.00 by taking into account that Sherjill MacDonald's salary cap hit is at the DP maximum of $368,750.00.
That puts the Fire roughly $297,127.00 over the budget amount of $2,950,000.00 for each club. There are other factors that weigh into what the actual number is in MLS reality such as the amount of allocation dollars attributed to buying down the cap hit or increasing the budget total and how much of Dilly Duka's guaranteed number is actually being picked up by Chicago. The Fire received a substantial amount of funny money when Marco Pappa was sold to Heerenveen so a big chunk of that is probably still in play here.
A total of $175,000.00 in budget space will be needed if the Fire are looking to add a designated player during the July transfer window. It seems that the club is saving that cap space/allocation amount in order to add a quality player later judging by their inactivity before the closing of the primary window on May 6. Trades can still be made within the league but a deal for someone like Bakary Soumare would involve either the Union picking up a substantial portion of the guaranteed amount, the player restructuring his deal, or moving some of the higher paid veterans on the roster.
The same can said of a deal for Robbie Rogers. Some salary cap gymnastics would need to take place in order to add him to the roster even if he did want to play in Chicago. This is why allocation dollars would probably be the best value if Los Angeles is unwilling to part with someone like Mike Magee, who is by the way making $191,667.00 guaranteed. How much funny money Bruce Arena has sitting in his pocket is anyone's guess but I can imagine that the league will ensure the Fire is compensated fairly if it comes to that.
Amarikwa Quincy F $ 46,500.00 $ 46,500.00
Jumper Hunter D $ 46,500.00 $ 46,500.00
Kann Alec GK $ 35,125.00 $ 35,125.00
King Brendan M $ 35,125.00 $ 35,125.00
Kinney Steven D $ 46,500.00 $ 46,500.00
Pineda Victor M $ 46,500.00 $ 53,242.42
Tornaghi Paolo GK $ 46,500.00 $ 46,500.00
Videira Michael M $ 46,500.00 $ 47,125.00
One or two of these names can probably be flipped with another player on the 20 man budgeted roster but for our purposes the totals aren't significant enough to make a big difference.
Fernandez Alvaro M $ 300,000.00 $ 366,666.67
Gulley Kellen F $ 65,000.00 $ 79,000.00
Puppo Federico F $ 125,000.00 $ 125,000.00
Gulley wouldn't count by virtue of Homegrown status but the other two are still on the books for now although they don't count against the budget. Puppo has another year remaining on his deal although he's essentially taken care of for 2013. Fernandez's loan is up in June so there will be some juggling to do there. If the Fire can't extend the loan it's conceivable that he could return. The question is at what cost to the budget and would he still be considered a DP?
I've asked for clarification on some of these rules directly from the league office and received a polite email in return that basically said, "those are excellent questions - we'll get back to you." That was in February.
I'm not holding my breath for that clarification.
Until then we can take the numbers for what they are. Just enough to get a ballpark look at where the budget amount could be. That ballpark is close enough to tell you that the Fire need to utilize whatever remaining allocation dollars they have this season wisely. Adding players who wouldn't necessarily make an impact before the May 6 deadline just to make a move wouldn't make sense if they're looking to add someone more substantial in the coming weeks or in the July window.
Of course, now they need to add that someone more substantial but that's an entirely different can of worms.