Kaka to be highest-paid player in MLS history; more salary figures
Next season, Orlando City SC will enter Major League Soccer boasting the highest-paid player in the league's history.
According to mid-season salary figures released by the MLS Players Union on Friday, Brazilian star Kaka will net an annual guaranteed compensation of just under $7.2 million with the Floridian side, about $700,000 more than David Beckham's first deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.
Kaka takes over top spot on the current MLS pay scale from Seattle Sounders striker Clint Dempsey, whose deal pays just south of $6.7 million guaranteed. Dempsey is followed by a pair of Toronto FC players in midfielder Michael Bradley ($6.5 million guaranteed) and Jermain Defoe ($6.1 million guaranteed).
Here are five more takeaways from the list of salaries:
• Kaka and David Villa have very differently-structured contracts. Kaka may be getting millions, but NYCFC's David Villa is listed as receiving a suspiciously low $60,000 in guaranteed compensation. SI.com understands that the structures of the individual players' contracts are responsible for the massive difference in salary, and that the number next to Villa's name will be much higher next season
Less explainable at this time: Villa's NYCFC teammate Frank Lampard isn't listed in the Union's document.
• For the first time, we have confirmed salaries for MLS newcomers. A bunch of players have been added to the MLS ranks since the last release of salary information in April, including U.S. World Cup squad members Jermaine Jones ($3.2 million for the New England Revolution) and DaMarcus Beasley (just under $800,000 for the Houston Dynamo).
Other newcomers include the Portland Timbers' Liam Ridgewell ($1.2 million), Columbus' Emmanuel Pogatetz ($372,500), Montreal's Ignacio Piatti ($387,500), D.C. United's Samuel Inkoom ($103,875), New England's Geoffrey Castillion ($329,033), Philadelphia's Rais Mbolhi ($240,000), Real Salt Lake's Sebastian Jaime ($216,000), and San Jose's Matias Perez ($216,000)
• In all, 15 players are millionaires. The aforementioned Kaka, Dempsey, Bradley, Defoe, Jones, and Ridgewell are part of this list.
The millionaire's club also includes Galaxy's Landon Donovan ($4.6 million), Omar Gonzalez ($1.2 million), and Robbie Keane ($4.5 million), Montreal's Marco Di Vaio ($2.6 million), New York's Tim Cahill ($3.6 million) and Thierry Henry ($4.3 million), Seattle's Obafemi Martins ($1.7 million), Toronto FC's Gilberto ($1.2 million), and Vancouver's Pedro Morales ($1.4 million)
• Goals ≠ big salaries. Three of the top five goal scorers in the league aren't Designated Players, making less than the MLS maximum salary of $387,000.
Within that, Dom Dwyer is making a case as MLS' most underpaid player. Dwyer, whose 20 goals have been enough to break the club's single-season scoring record, makes $92,500 in guaranteed compensation.
Ahed of Dwyer, Bradley Wright-Phillips is on the cusp of breaking the league single season scoring record, and hauls in $372,500. The Galaxy's Gyasi Zardes, fourth in the league in scoring, makes $198,000 guaranteed.
• Zusi, Besler deals confirmed. Last but not least, the Union's release confirms the numbers Brian Straus' summer report on the DP-level deals signed by U.S. World Cup players Matt Besler and Graham Zusi with Sporting Kansas City (about $630,000 guaranteed each).