MLS salary guide released: Compensation for first four Nashville MLS players revealed

Player salaries in the USL are (sometimes tightly-)kept a secret, by league policy. Some are known – or can be estimated, assumed etc. – but teams and the league don’t reveal them.

That is not the case for Major League Soccer. The MLS Players’ Association releases those numbers twice per season. Typically the first edition comes in early May, but it was pushed back this year. Today is the day, though.

Nashville currently has three players on its roster who are signed to MLS contracts (and one more is set to join in January, while currently on an MLS contract and still playing in MLS). Let us dive behind the curtain, see how the sausage is made, other metaphor with similar meaning, etc.:

Player Status Salary Budget hit
David Accam Columbus Crew (trade effective Jan. 1, 2020) $1,137,920 $1,010,004
Derrick Jones Philadelphia Union (on loan to Nashville USL, trade to Nashville MLS effective Jan. 1, 2020) $80,900 $75,000
Cameron Lancaster Nashville MLS (on loan to Nashville USL for 2019 season) $80,671 $70,250
Daniel Ríos Nashville MLS (on loan to Nashville USL for 2019 season) $91,625 $80,000

As we know from my breakdown of the ludicrously complicated MLS roster rules, the current salary cap (it will be slightly different next year, as will the specific numbers on some of these contracts) is $4,240,000. In addition, the maximum budget hit for an individual player is $530,000 – the rest of Accam’s current salary counts against the Columbus Crew’s allocation money allotment, not the salary cap (I can’t reiterate enough how much I hate this, if only because it adds like 20 layers of complication when trying to describe).

That means Nashville currently has $755,250 of its salary cap spoken for in four players – assuming the compensation remains the same next year (which it won’t, but the ballpark is good enough). Of course, given that Nashville will also trade for Derrick Jones’s Homegrown rights, and he’s making more than the senior minimum, he can occupy a spot on the reserve roster and not count against the salary budget. (Again, I hate this).

Any surprises here? For Accam and Jones (who were on the same multi-year MLS contracts last season and this one), certainly not. I don’t think there’s much surprise in both Cameron Lancaster and Daniel Ríos being close to, but above the senior league minimum, either. (Especially given we know Lancaster picked Nashville over Orlando City because they offered him a league-minimum salary).

As Nashville SC builds its roster for the 2020 season – and I’ll have more pieces coming in that regard – continuing to monitor how the finances will work out is going to be a category to watch.

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