Note: The salary table below is best viewed on a laptop, desktop, or tablet.
Yesterday, the Major League Soccer Player Association made one of their regular data dumps and released all 2022 MLS player salaries as of April 15. There are a lot of juicy numbers to go through, and plenty of hot takes to tweet out into the universe.
But before we start feasting on the figures, we’ll do the responsible thing and echo the caveat noted by Jeff Rueter and Sam Stejskal in The Athletic: While this might be the best publicly-available primary source for player salaries, “the formula the MLSPA uses for guaranteed compensation does not give a perfectly accurate indication of what a player is making this season.” In other words, these are well-informed guesstimates. Bonuses are averaged, transfer and loan fees are annualized, and the actual salary paid to the player might be different than what these specific sums suggest. We only know what we know.
Now, let’s go to to the numbers.
1. NYCFC’s attacking line is a steal
The five largest payouts in MLS belong to Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire, $8.15 million), Javier Hernandez (LA Galaxy, $6 million), Gonzalo Higuaín (Inter Miami, $5.79 million), Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto FC, $4,69 million), and Jozy Altidore (New England Revolution, $4.27 million). Of those, only Hernandez and Pozuelo are worth the money, and Pozuelo is coming off an injury-ravaged 2021 season in which he scored only one goal.
Not a single one of NYCFC’s star attackers is in the Top 10—or even in the Top 50. The duffel bags stuffed with vacuum-sealed bricks of $20 bills that Inter Miami owner David Beckham hand-delivers to Higuaín would more than cover the salaries of Maxi Moralez ($1.3 million), Talles Magno ($1.19 million), Taty Castellanos ($1.08 million), Gabriel Pereira ($624,000), Santiago Rodríguez ($612,500), and Thiago ($199,600): The Most Interesting Benchwarmer in the World is puling in more cash than the entirety of the best attacking line in MLS.
2. Thiago and Acevedo are the biggest bargains in the club
You read that right: The high-performing, hard-playing Thiago will make just $199,600 in 2022. He already has four goals this year, the same as Carlos Vela (LAFC, $4.05 million) and Sebastián Ferreira (Houston Dynamo, $1.98 million). It seems a little unfair that the regular starter doesn’t make more, and he was one of the few NYCFC players who didn’t get a raise this year: Booo.
Nicolás Acevedo ($254,800) is another starter with the salary of a backup player. At least his compensation package grew 68.7% this season.
3. Castellanos and Callens are the biggest bargains in MLS
Castellanos and Alexander Callens ($814,000) are arguably the best at their positions in MLS, the elite of the elite, and both draw salaries that put them somewhere towards the bottom of the top of the pyramid. They’re not criminally under-compensated, but they vastly outperform peers who are paid more.
4. The Alexandru Mitriță fiasco lingers
Alexandru Mitriță seemed like a good idea at the time: A small, speedy forward who was completely unknown in MLS, he looked like he could be the Romanian Sebastian Giovinco and a capable replacement for David Villa. Not only did the mercurial Mitrita not live up to his Designated Player promise – he was sent packing after two not-terrible years – no other club in the world will take him off New York City’s hands. Now on loan on PAOK FC in Super League Greece, NYCFC is still on the hook for an undisclosed portion of his $1.15 million in wages. Insult to injury: His brilliantly-negotiated contract gave him a 64.3% raise this year.
5. Maxi took a pay cut of 60%
When it was announced in January that Moralez would give up his Designated Player status but remain with the team as a squad player through the 2022 season, it wasn’t clear how the numbers would shake out. Now we know that NYCFC’s newly-minted deep-lying playmaker will earn $1.3 million this year, down from the $3.29 million he made last year.
Still, it seems like good business all around. The 35-year-old midfielder is entering the final stages of his playing career, and while he remains a key part of the team he’s now spending more time on the bench and filing the roll of a mentor as much as a playmaker.
The only other NYCFC player to take a pay cut in 2022 is Maxime Chanot.
6. New York City has the 7th-highest payroll, or maybe the 11th
To go by the numbers, NYCFC’s 2022 payroll tallies $15.54 million in guaranteed compensation. According to The Athletic, that places NYCFC at #7 in MLS, well behind league leaders Atlanta United ($20.99 million) — in fact, NYCFC are closer to last-place Real Salt Lake ($10.47 million) than first-place Atlanta. But NYCFC’s total includes $1.15 million paid to Mitrita (see above), and if you deduct that then New York City’s $14.39 million payroll is good for #11, just behind LAFC ($14.56 million) and just above Cincinnati FC ($13.79 million).
Back to the disclaimer at the top of this post: Other teams might have similar obligations, which makes it difficult to definitively rank the clubs.
Still, there’s a larger point to make, namely that NYCFC are doing good business. The haters might say that the club is a high-roller fueled by petrodollars, but really sporting dictator David Lee is doing an exceptional job of finding emerging players who are undervalued, and manager Ronny Deila is doing an exceptional job of developing their talents.
Note that the 2022 payroll inched up just 2.5% over 2021—or it actually went down if you factor in the $700,00 raise given to Mitrita for being a mediocre goal-scorer in Thessaloniki (which is actually a really nice town with a great cafe scene on the waterfront).
7. When I was your age…
Midfielder Máximo Carrizo, the 14-year-old who made MLS history earlier this year when becoming the youngest player ever to sign a Senior Team contract, will earn $84,357 this year. Not bad, kid.
NYCFC Player Salaries 2022
|Name||Position||Base Salary||Total Compensation||2021 Compensation||% Change|
|Acevedo, Nicolás||D, M||$200,000||$254,800||$151,000||68.7%|
|Amundsen, Malte||D, M||$270,000||$308,700||$278,700||10.8%|
|Araujo dos Santos, Héber||F||$825,000||$914,000||$788,750||-15.9%|