Matt Besler and Graham Zusi will take home identical base salaries under their new designated player contracts, according to a Sports Illustrated report.
Besler and Zusi signed guaranteed contract extensions with Sporting Kansas City on July 19, ending speculation that either player could opt for an overseas transfer.
The extensions include a pro-rated base salary of $600,000 this year, which will increase to $650,000 in 2015, $700,000 in 2016, $725,000 in 2017 and $750,000 in the final year of the deals, according to the report. The contracts also include separate team and performance bonuses.
Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman told The Star that all four years of both contracts are guaranteed — an unusual offer in Major League Soccer.
Besler was making $200,000 this season prior to signing the extension, which made him only the 32nd highest paid defender in Major League Soccer. He was set to make $220,000 next season under his previous contract before becoming a free agent, according to his agent, Eddie Rock.
Zusi’s salary was listed at $365,000 this season, highest of any player on the team, after he signed an extension last summer. Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said that Zusi’s actual salary was larger than that, but the team was using allocation funds to lower his salary cap hit.
Besler and Zusi each appeared in all four of the United States men’s national team games in this summer’s World Cup.
The overseas interest in Besler spiked after he silenced Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo in group play, Rock said. Besler mentioned English soccer clubs Fulham and Sunderland as two of the teams who contacted him, but he rebuffed those offers to stay with his hometown club.
“There was a lot of things in favor of staying at home and staying with this club. I don’t feel like I need to sit here and rattle all of them off,” Besler said when his contract was announced. “At the end of the day, the ownership group is a special group. When I had meetings with them, they made me feel like part of their family. That stuff doesn’t happen a lot in sports. I feel like I can trust them. I feel like they can trust me. I’m comfortable in moving forward with them.”