The Full 90

Digging into Sporting Kansas City's salaries

Over the weekend, the Major League Soccer Player's Union released the 2011 salary information. There were a few surprises for Sporting Kansas City.

Check out the full listing here.

For starters, KC is on the hook for $100,004 for a player (Nikos Kounenakis) who never once played for them in 2010. The other big surprises: Designated player Omar Bravo is the 9th highest-paid player on the team (at least, that's what the numbers show*), Jimmy Nielsen got the biggest pay raise ($100k) and KC is approximately $369,936 under the salary cap.

*According to the player's union, there are no misprints. So, Bravo only makes $120,000 a year. There is likely some sort of arrangement on the part of the team. I'm sure we'll find out more soon. Or it will stay a weird enigma forever.

If you look at the whole league, perhaps the least-surprising fact is that the total compensation of New York and Los Angeles ($25,816,766) is only slightly less than the total compensation of the lower 8 teams in the league (New England + Kansas City + D.C. + Dallas + Columbus + Colorado + San Jose + Chivas + Portland = $28,177,814).

Here are the official numbers from the MLS Player's Union. The first number, base salary, is the number that counts toward the salary cap. The second number is the total money paid to the player (which includes signing bonuses, etc.). I've added a third field, which is salary increase from 2010.

Name  Pos.  Base Salary  Total Compensation  Change from '10
Aiyegbusi Olukorede    D 42,000.0042,000.00+2,000
Arnaud DavyM250,000.00258,750.00+30,000
Auvray StephaneM170,000.00208,125.00+30,000
Besler MattD58,410.0069,660.00+7,810
Bravo OmarF120,000.00170,000.000
Bunbury TealF85,000.00183,000.00+20,000
Cesar JulioD210,000.00213,750.000
Collin AurelienD185,004.00191,254.000
Diop IbrahimM60,000.0064,250.00+3,000
Ellis KevinD32,604.0033,354.000
Espinoza RogerM100,000.00133,750.00+25,000
Harrington MichaelM-D110,000.00136,833.33+31,484
Jones Mychel*D32,604.0032,604.000
Kamara KeiF200,000.00202,500.00+20,000
Kempin JonathanGK42,000.0049,083.330
Kounenakis Nick**D110,004.00120,004.00+50,000
Kronberg EricGK62,500.0062,500.00+6,500
Lorenz ScottD32,604.0032,604.000
Myers ChanceD-M72,000.0087,666.67+2,000
Nielsen JimmyGK200,000.00241,666.67+100,000
Rocastle CraigM110,000.00116,062.50+14,000
Sapong CharlesF42,000.0042,000.000
Sassano LukeM-D42,000.0042,000.000
Smith RyanM-F140,000.00144,375.00+15,000
Stojcev MilosM90,000.0099,000.000
Thomas ShavarD160,000.00174,375.00+15,000
Warzycha Konrad***M32,604.0032,604.000
Zusi GrahamF-M42,000.0042,000.00+2,000
*Jones has since been released by the team.

**Kounenakis made 0 first-team appearances for Kansas City in 2010 after signing on July 18, 2010. He was released this off-season.

***Warzycha is on injured reserve and doesn't count on the team's active roster.

So... I've gotta few thoughts besides the surprises listed above.

1. According to the MLS roster rules, the salary cap is $2,675,000. Only the players listed 1-20 on the roster count toward the salary cap. Players listed 21-30 are considered "off budget" players -- this includes players signed to Generation Adidas and Homegrown contracts. Kansas City's "on budget" players' base compensation equals $2,449,918 -- or $225,082 under the cap.

2. However... Kansas City has 13 players making more than $100k. This doesn't mean a whole lot -- right now. There's a loophole in the roster rules that states a team can leave roster spots 19 and 20 open and spread out the salary cap over 18 players. By my estimates, the 18 "on budget" players (with their cap hit) for KC are:

1. Arnaud $250,000

2. Auvray $170,000

3. Besler $58,410

4. Bravo $120,000

5. Cesar $210,000

6. Collin $185,004

7. Diop $60,000

8. Espinoza $100,000

9. Harrington, $110,000

10. Kamara $200,000

11. Kronberg $62,500

12. Myers $72,000

13. Nielsen $200,000

14. Rocastle $110,000

15. Smith $140,000

16. Stojcev $90,000

17. Thomas $160,000

18. Kounenakis $110,004**** ****This is an assumption: If the team is still paying Kouenankis, doesn't he have to be on the on-budget roster?

Adding another player who makes $100k (say another DP-level player or a max-salary attacking midfielder) would put them up against the cap with only 26 players on the roster. Flexibility might become an issue.

3. The "off budget" players: Graham Zusi ($42,000), CJ Sapong ($42,000), Luke Sassano ($42,000 - the defacto minimum salary for players over 25 years of age with league experience), Korede Aiyegbusi ($42,000), Teal Bunbury ($85,000 - Generation adidas), Jon Kempin ($42,000 - Homegrown), Kevin Ellis ($32,604 - the minimum salary for players 24 years of age or younger), Scott Lorenz ($32,604) and Konrad Warzycha ($32,604).

KC has, in theory, two open "off budget" spots. The league allows teams to leave two spots open and use $35,000 for each empty spot as allocation money. If this is what KC is doing, they won't have an open roster spot when he returns.

4. Julio Cesar is the third-highest paid player on the team, Aurelien Collin the 6th and Shavar Thomas the 8th. KC are paying $579,379 to three central defenders. And yet, the best CB this season is arguably Matt Besler ($69,660).

5. The best value on the team, arguably, is Graham Zusi. For the league minimum, KC has gotten five appearances and one start. For many of the same reasons, you could state a case for CJ Sapong. The worst value is, depending on your read of the game, Davy Arnaud (highest-paid player, 0 goals) or Craig Rocastle ($110,000, just three appearances).