The early 2019 MLS salary data was released about three weeks ago and the data for Sporting Kansas City was included. We found out the team has a new highest paid player (Johnny Russell) and 10 players making above the max budget charge for MLS.
The Blue Testament would be doing you a disservice if we didn’t continue our trend of analyzing who is the best value and who is the worst (and a few in between). Let’s start with the best values and work our way towards the worst.
#1 Gianluca Busio - $90,000
Busio is not a starter and may not be one for the foreseeable future but he’s had 10 appearances to date in 2019 (five starts) and he’s scored three times in 419 minutes. He’s still on a budget friendly Homegrown deal that has option years through 2022. He’ll probably end up overseas in the next 18-24 months, but until then he’s a steal.
#2 Seth Sinovic - $143,000
Sinovic took a near $15,000 pay cut from 2018 to 2019 but he’s still firmly entrenched as the starter at left back, no matter how many times Peter Vermes tries to sign someone else to play his role. He’s the lowest paid of the three left backs on the roster with Rodney Wallace, who was this years attempt to replace him, making more than double his pay ($360,000). This could end up being Seth’s last year on the team, but he’s by far the cheapest starting defender (Besler - $674,998, Zusi - $688,333, Fontas - $1,050,000).
#3 Daniel Salloi - $144,125
This is more a product of his wage than his 2019 performance. He was the 2018 SKC Golden Boot winner but he hasn’t found the back of the net yet this season. Even just as the third winger on the team this is a great value and if Daniel can re-find his form he’ll more than live up to this deal.
#4 Gerso Fernandes - $550,008
The highest paid player in the the ‘best value’ list but he’s earning his salary in 2019. He took a pay cut from 2018 of $41,250 but he’s far outperforming his 2018 self. He has five goals in all competitions and he’s more than made-up for Salloi’s poor performance this year. Even though he’s yet to score in MLS play this team is better when he’s on the field stretching defenses and creating space for his teammates.
#5 Botond Barath - $297,333
He’s making nearly as much as Opara made to start in 2018 but Barath has been an important asset. He’s covered for Besler and Fontas during their injuries and he’s a capable starter who is a luxury as a third CB. He takes a bit of a hit in this ranking because his signing made this team think Ike Opara is expendable.
Jimmy Medranda - $155,004 - He’s dynamic and still young despite the fact that he’s been on the roster since August of 2013. Six years and still on a budget friendly deal. He missed most of the year with an injury but he can play LB, midfield and the wing.
Roger Espinoza ($800,000) - Sure he’s missed a lot of the year, but he’s back for $100,000 less than 2018 and his absence shows how important he is.
Matt Besler ($674,998) - See Espinoza, Roger. Besler makes this backline work and he took an even bigger paycut and is still an important part of this team, even at this salary.
Tim Melia ($341,675) - He hasn’t been lights out, but he’s still a good value.
Gedion Zelalem ($77,917) - He’s cheap and has the potential to be sold for a big fee. He’s also good depth while SKC have dealt with their injury crisis. And now, he’s suddenly starting games.
#1 Andreu Fontas - $1,050,000
I reserve the right to change my mind but right now, it’s too much money for Fontas based on what he’s provided on the field. He’s been consistently torched for pace by MLS attackers. Fontas is hurt by the fact that he came from a huge league and this is the salary that SKC probably had to pay to get him. If he turns it around and he and Besler stay healthy and play like they did at the beginning of 2019 no one will care what his salary is.
#2 Graham Zusi - $688,333
It’s stunning to see Zusi go from one of the best fullbacks in all of MLS in 2018 to a complete dumpster fire in 2019. I still contend he may not be fully healthy based on his bizarre play. Also, it could be said not having Opara and Espinoza covering for him has really killed his game. He can’t go forward as much because Espinoza isn’t there to drop back into his space and Fontas can’t cover because he’s so slow. That said, Zusi has made numerous unforced errors and his three-year contract extension currently looks like a terrible move.
#3 Rodney Wallace - $360,000
Somehow, Wallace got a nearly $60,000 raise from 2018 and he’ll end his season (and likely his Sporting KC career) having only played 27 league minutes. He’s in contention for the worst free agent signing in MLS history. His competitions are other SKC players in Justin Mapp and Brad Evans. The only thing making the Wallace deal better is he was not really expected to be a consistent starter.
#4 Yohan Croizet - $730,008
Yohan is a victim of his salary and transfer fee (reportedly $1.5 million). He’s just making too much to be a back-up. He has been an important part of the team playing at left back, multiple midfield spots, both wings and center forward so far this year. He hasn’t done any of those things that well, but it’s hard when you constantly switch positions. If he made about $250,000 he’d be in the best values column.
#5 Erik Hurtado - $181,250
This is 100% due to Hurtado’s injury and therefore subsequent lack of production. His salary is reasonable for a backup CF but he’s missed most of the season and he could be out a while longer. If he does come back and provide some relief to Krisztian Nemeth then his salary will be a fine deal.