As we approach the mid-point of the 2016 MLS season it seemed like the perfect time to look at the best and worst value based on the new salary information that was just released. If you are anything like me, you are yearning for some Sporting Kansas City action, but there isn't another game until June 15th.
We started earlier this week by looking at the best values which was highlighted by Jimmy Medranda who makes only $63,000.00. Be sure to check out the rest of the list to see who joins Medranda and are outplaying their salary. Now that we have that out of the way, we have to move on to the worst values. Sadly, this was a much easier list to compile.
To reiterate, the MLS Players Association puts out two numbers, a base salary and guaranteed compensation. We're using the guaranteed number since it is significantly higher in some cases.
#1 - Graham Zusi - $732,102.27
I'm not going to make any friends with my number one pick, but the numbers speak for themselves. In 12 appearances (out of a possible 16) Zusi has zero goals and three assists. The assists aren't terrible as he's on pace to eclipse the minuscule five he accumulated in 2015. That said, he scored twice last year which he has yet to do for Sporting this year. This is simply unacceptable for a forward. Even Jacob Peterson has found the back of the net (and he did it in just 192 minutes, compared to Zusi's 992 minutes). If only Zusi could score for his club like he does for his country (he has two goals this year).
Graham Zusi coming in at first on this list isn't just based on stats. It's based on the fact that he is the third highest paid player on the team (Roger Espinoza is first and Matt Besler is just a tick ahead of Zusi). When a team pays nearly three quarters of a million dollars for a forward, they want more production. To be fair to Zusi he should probably be a midfielder and not a forward. But he lines up as a forward and doesn't produce like one.
#2 - Justin Mapp - $239,070.00
Mapp is the first free agent ever signed in MLS history. His production doesn't bode well for future free agents. To be fair, MLS free agency is very limited and requires an astonishing eight years in the league to reach this point. Mapp actually has 14 prior MLS seasons under his belt and maybe he's all used up. In 2015 he only appeared in five games (three starts) due to injury. 2016 is off to just as bad of a start. He has only 22 minutes across 2 appearances (zero starts). That is $10,867 per minute. Sign me up for that pay.
Mapp was supposed to be an option off the bench (and a relief starter) and a turf toe hasn't allowed that to happen. Remember over the winter when Sporting CEO, Robb Hieneman, indicated he wanted Mapp and Mike Mcgee? It looks like he made the wrong signing. Magee joined the LA Galaxy in the offseason and has five goals, four assists, 13 appearances (11 starts) and 924 minutes. For comparison Dom Dwyer is Sporting's lead striker and he has six goals and two assists. SKC sure could have used that production.
#3 - Bernardo Anor - $132,624.00
This may seem like an odd selection, but he's taking up space. Anor will likely not play for Sporting Kansas City at all this year as he is out on loan to NASL side, Minnesota United FC, who will actually join MLS as an expansion club (likely next year). That said, I cannot imagine Minnesota are paying very much of Anor's salary. Anor was a poor signing in 2015 as is evident by his 13 appearances (four starts) and 483 minutes with no goals or assists to his name. That money could have been spent better elsewhere.
#4 - Paulo Nagamura - $225,000.00
Much of the offseason came and went and Nagamura remained a free agent. In the end, he re-signed with Sporting KC and only took a $5,000 pay cut. Nagamura is nice depth to have but he simply isn't worth the cost. To compound that he has been injured for a great deal of the 2016 season. He only has three appearances (two starts) for 181 minutes. What this comes down to is that Naga is one of Peter Vermes' guys. If not, he's not getting paid that much to barely play.
#5 - Diego Rubio - $333,000.00
Let me start by saying, I like Diego Rubio. I think he is exciting, brings a good energy when he gets on the field and just generally seems like a guy with lots of potential. The problem is he isn't being used. To show you how good he's actually been, he is averaging 0.55 goals per 90-minutes versus Dom Dwyer who is averaging 0.41 goals per 90-minutes. Dwyer has six goals to Rubio's one, but Rubio hasn't had a chance. Rubio coming in fifth is about Sporting KC spending one-third of a million dollars on a kid they aren't playing. It seems obvious when the option to pick up his loan is up at the end of this month, he'll return to his club.
Chance Myers ($225,000) and Seth Sinovic ($112,666.67)
These were supposed to be the starting fullbacks for Sporting Kansas City in 2016. They are the highest paid players in their position but both seem to have fallen out of favor for much cheaper players. Myers has eight appearances and Sinovic has just four. Saad Abdul-Salaam appears to have jumped over Myers and Sinovic may be third on the depth chart at left back (behind Jimmy Medranda and Amadou Dia). Sinovic actually isn't paid that much for a would be starter, but Myers is. Myers has to get back into the starting lineup on a consistent basis to justify his cost.
With that list out of the way, we'll be diving deeper into the salaries over the coming months. It's worth looking at what bargains are around the MLS that would be great fits on Sporting KC to replace some of the bloated salaries above. Do you agree or disagree with my assessments. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@PlayFor90).