2010 Sporting KC Salary Vs. Production

Four of the highest paid players - (L to R) Kei Kamara, Davy Arnaud, Jack Jewsbury and Jimmy Conrad - from the 2010 Sporting KC roster. Were they earning the big bucks in terms of production?

When Sporting Kansas City traded midfielder Jack Jewsbury to expansion club Portland Timbers on Tuesday afternoon, it re-opened an all-too-familiar wave of fan response - displeasure at the sight of a long-time servant being shown the door by the club during the 2010-11 Major League Soccer offseason. As someone who attempts to look at the team and its dealings from an objective and unbiased view, I couldn't help but wonder whether they had a legitimate gripe over the team ridding so many tenured stalwarts, or if it was merely the connection of a fan to their favorite player(s).

To recap, gone this offseason are defender Jimmy Conrad and forward Josh Wolff - both players who played nearly a decade for the club, both players left available in the MLS re-entry drafts - defenders Aaron Hohlbein, Jonathon Leathers and Nikos Kounenakis and forward Sunil Chhetri*. Fans were shocked, appalled, irrate, heartbroken and some even went to the extreme of feeling betrayed by the club they support, and the fact they could just so easily part with such players.

Most notably, fans felt the Conrad was the one done the most wrong in the time leading up to his exit from town. I maintained a steady opinion that while he had been a great player for a long time, it was best for the club to do what they did, given his high salary for MLS standards and his age.

In a league that prides itself on parity, seeing how there are things such as a salary cap, discovery lists for new players to the league, a players union, etc., it is imperative that when you do make a big cash splash for a player, you get a high value return on your dollar. So, the question becomes this: were the players that are now gone performing up to levels that their contracts demanded, or were they simply stealing the team's money?

* The crying of foul on Chhetri came nearly exclusively from the unsettled crowd of Indian soccer supporters that took to the club after Chhetri's signing last offseason; that one is a whole 'nother can of worms that I'm not even about to touch.

All salary data made possible by Mike at Down The Byline.


'10 Salary ($) '10 Minutes '10 $/minute '10 Goals '10 $/goal '10 Assists '10 $/assist '10 Shutouts '10 $/SO
Davy Arnaud 220,000 2,342 93.94 6 36,666.67 3 73,333.33 -
-
Stephane Auvray 140,000 1,681 83.28 -
-
1 140,000.00 8 17,500.00
Teal Bunbury 65,000 1,441 45.11 5 13,000.00 2 32,500.00 -
-
Sunil Chhetri 100,008 0 100,008 -
-
-
-
-
-
Jimmy Conrad 232,750 2,282 101.99 1 232,750.00 -
-
9 25,861.11
Birahim Diop 57,000 497 114.69 5 11,400.00 1 57,000.00 -
-
Roger Espinoza 75,000 2,192 34.22 -
-
1 75,000.00 8 9,375.00
Michael Harrington 78,516 2,560 30.67 -
-
4 19,629.00 10 7,851.60
Jack Jewsbury 145,000 1,675 86.57 2 72,500.00 -
-
-
-
Kei Kamara 180,000 2,418 74.44 10 18,000.00 6 30,000.00 -
-
Chance Myers 70,000 568 123.24 -
-
-
-
-
-
Jimmy Nielsen 100,000 2,610 38.31 -
-
-
-
10 10,000.00
Craig Rocastle 96,000 1,470 65.31 -
-
3 32,000.00 -
-
Ryan Smith 125,000 2,104 59.41 3 41,666.67 7 17,857.14 -
-
Josh Wolff 220,004 1,549 142.03 2 110,002.00 3 73,334.67 -
-
Graham Zusi 40,000 540 74.07 1 40,000.00 -
-
-
-

Obviously, minutes played aren't a direct barometer of a players performance for a given season, but the theory is that the better the coach thinks a player is performing, the more he'll play. And, that just so happened to be the most readily available stat from the league.

Observations

  • Even in the top five highest paid players on the team, at $180,000, Kei Kamara's prodcution was very much worth his salary. Only Birahim Diop - whose scoring sprees came literally out of nowhere - and Teal Bunbury, who was on an extremely low rookie salary, top Kamara's dollar per goal rate. I'd bet $18,000 per goal probably stacks up pretty well against the rest of the players in the league that scored double-digit goals in 2010.
  • For all the fuss over not re-signing Kevin Hartman last offseason and bringing in Jimmy Nielsen at a higher salary, it's tough to say he didn't earn it. He started 29 of 30 games - playing every minute of every one of those games - and he managed to keep 10 clean sheets over the course of the season, despite chaos and inconsistency on the backline in front of him.
  • There's very little way to say it, other than Josh Wolff's 2010 contract was a complete waste of dollars and salary cap space. He played fewer minutes than almost every forward on the list, while making more than double the others in some cases. Each of his 2 goals for the season cost the team $110,000. If you're not going to rack up the goals yourself, at least create them for others; $73,000 per assist (3).
  • The two most consistently valuable players acrros the board, based upon salary vs. production? My two favorite players, fullbacks Michael Harrington and Roger Espinoza. Both were on ~$75,000 deals, while they finished one-two in price per minute, Harrington's dollar per assist ratio was also at the very top of the list, and each player cost the team next to nothing per clean sheet that they were apart of. To match their value in 2011, they'll have to step it up another notch, though, as Harrington signed a new deal which should be north of $100,000 and Espinoza is no longer on a Generation adidas contract, so his salary should go up, too. Hard to argue that, though, as both are very much deserved.
  • The most unfruitful contract of the 2010 season? As if we didn't already know - Sunil Chhetri. I'd love for someone to find me a job where I can make over $100,000 a year, yet not have a single credit to my name for anything.
  • All 10 clean sheets in 2010 were kept by Nielsen. Of the 10, Harrington was involved in all 10, Conrad in 9, and Espinoza and midfielder Stephane Auvray in 8 a piece, as well. It will be interesting, as we've anticipated all winter long, to see how the center of defense shakes out. A huge help to them, though, will be those fullbacks on either side of them.

------------------------------------------------------

What do you think? Surprised by some of the players' monetary values in 2010? Didn't realize just how much of a steal Harrington and Espinoza were last year? Ready to let the Hartman-Nielsen quaffle go? Wondering what the team will do with so much freed-up salary space?

Yeah, so am I, still.

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