The designated-player contracts that kept Matt Besler and Graham Zusi in Kansas City have made them the club's highest-paid players, according to figures released Monday by the MLS Players Union. Both players earn a base salary of $600,000 with Sporting Kansas City, with guaranteed bonuses adding more than $30,000 onto that figure.
Benny Feilhaber ($325,000), Aurelien Collin ($275,000) and Claudio Bieler ($225,000) are also among the team's five costliest players in terms of base salary.
Kaka, a Brazilian midfielder who will join the Orlando City expansion franchise next season, has a guaranteed compensation of $7.17 million, the highest in league history.
Besler and Zusi drew interest from overseas clubs after representing the United States men’s national team at the World Cup last month. But they instead signed designated player contracts in July that will keep them in Kansas City through the 2018 season.
Their U.S. national team teammate, Seattle striker Clint Dempsey, is the league's highest-paid current player in terms of guaranteed compensation. He has a base salary of $4.9 million, a number that stretches to $6.695 million with signing and other guaranteed bonuses included.
Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley and Toronto forward Jermain Defoe each have a base salary of $6 million.
A player is often making more money than is listed by the players union. The base salaries do not include performance bonuses. Teams can also use allocation money to buy down a player's salary cap hit.
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