Major League Soccer’s designated player rule has allowed the league to attract several elite level talents away from major European leagues. The prospect of making a comparable salary in an emerging league has allowed several players to extend their careers while still playing meaningful soccer. The rule allows clubs to sign players to higher salaries that will only count for a fraction of their value against the league salary cap. It has had a transformative effect on the league, allowing it to grow and attract superstars like David Beckham.
The Designated Player rule allows MLS teams to sign up to three designated players that will count only as a maximum of $387,500 towards the salary cap. This rule has allowed maximum player salaries to grow, however average and median MLS salaries are far lower than that of a designated player. Income inequality is running rampant in the league despite average salary rising because of fifteen players earning in excess of $1 million this season. For instance, Clint Dempsey earns over 100 times more than several of his Seattle Sounders teammates.
The league has succeeded in attracting elite talents from all over the world. Nine countries are represented among the league’s fifteen highest paid players, including five Americans. As the league emerges into its newest era, attendance records are being set and team revenues are increasing. The league bears a new logo to mark this occasion and has broken the $7 million single player salary barrier this season. Here are the top earning players in 2014.
**Frank Lampard has not be included on this list, as his compensation has not been disclosed by the MLS yet.
15 Liam Ridgewell – Portland Timbers - $1.20 million
14 Gilberto – Toronto FC - $1.205 million
13 Omar Gonzalez – LA Galaxy - $1.25 million
12 Pedro Morales – Vancouver Whitecaps - $1.41 million
11 Obafemi Martins – Seattle Sounders - $1.75 million
10 Marco Di Vaio – Montreal Impact - $2.6 million
9 Jermaine Jones – New England Revolution - $3.25 million
8 Tim Cahill – New York Red Bulls - $3.62 million
7 Thierry Henry – New York Red Bulls - $4.35 million
6 Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy - $4.50 million
5 Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy - $4.58 million
4 Jermain Defoe – Toronto FC - $6.18 million
3 Michael Bradley – Toronto FC - $6.5 million
2 Clint Dempsey – Seattle Sounders - $6.69 million
1 Ricardo Kaka – Orlando City – $7.16 million
The league’s highest paid player is owned by a team that has not played a single game. Ricardo Kaka was signed by Orlando City Soccer Club as the first signing in their history. He has since been on a loan spell in Brazil with Sao Paolo and has stayed fit by scoring a goal in his ten appearances for the club. Orlando is renowned for their passionate soccer fans and the prospect of their second major professional sports franchise has many fans excited. Time will tell if Kaka can bring success to the expansion franchise.
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