Analysis / Union

Union salary breakdown: Steals, deals & … trades?

Photo: Mike Long

Salary figures tell you a lot in Major League Soccer. MLS rules cap how much teams can spend on players, but there are numerous ways around that, such as signing designated players and using allocation money.

Still, the MLS Players Union’s annual salary figures release is one of the year’s biggest revelations, and the data became available this week.

Here are the biggest takeaways for Philadelphia Union.

The surprise

Many thought Kleberson would join the Union at a higher salary than his listed $495,000, based on Brazilian press reports indicating he was making over $1 million a year. So it’s a surprise to see him at that level, effectively a lower echelon designated player.

At $495,000, Kleberson may be a good acquisition even if he never plays regularly for the Union. Why?

  1. He makes less than Freddy Adu’s $650,000 salary for 2013, although it’s probably a wash (at best) when Adu’s buyout costs are considered.
  2. Kleberson’s loan expires at season’s end if not renewed. That means the Union could clear his salary from the books in 2014 and gain spending flexibility.

On the down side, we may have to start referring to him as “the expiring contract of Kleberson,” because it increasingly appears that the Union acquired him almost solely to clear Adu from the books in a trade with Bahia in Brazil.

The steals
  • Ray Gaddis – $46,500

Gaddis makes the league minimum. He’s a regular starter. Regardless of what you think of his left foot, that makes him a steal. Thanks to his performance Saturday deputizing at right back, everyone just got a reminder of how good he is when deployed on his natural right side.

  • Antoine Hoppenot – $48,400

The Union supersub is an impact attacker earning just above the league minimum. Enough said.

  • Gabriel Farfan – $50,820

Farfan joined the Union on a cut-rate deal after spending time in Mexico, and he has outplayed that initial contract. He is one of the Union’s most talented, dynamic, and fearless players and may fight his way back into the regular starting lineup for the third straight season.

The surprisingly reasonable veteran deals
  • Sebastien Le Toux

Yes, it’s becoming fashionable for some to criticize the Le Toux signing, but considering his past production, a $200,000 base salary is a good rate for the proven striker. Should Jack McInerney earn a Gold Cup call-up, Le Toux will get the chance to remind people of his quality once he too gets the chance to partner with a legitimate target forward for the first time since 2010.

  • Conor Casey

At $175,000, Casey took a big pay cut from the $400,000 he made in Colorado. So far, he looks like a great signing. The Union took a gamble Casey could return to form, and, considering he has, his salary makes him an absolute bargain. Should Casey regain 90-minute fitness, he could prove one of the league’s best off-season acquisitions. Don’t underestimate how much McInerney has benefited from Casey’s presence.

The Juan Diego Gonzalez Award

Ever since Juan Diego Gonzalez sat the bench the entire 2011 season while collecting one of the Union’s highest salaries, the Union have seemingly made it a tradition to staple at least one high-paid player to the bench.

Now it’s center back Bakary Soumare, who missed most of last season due to injury and requested a trade after Union manager John Hackworth chose Amobi Okugo and Jeff Parke as his starting center backs. At $350,000, Soumare is the league’s fourth highest paid defender, behind Toronto’s Darren O’Dea, Vancouver’s Jay DeMerit, and Chicago’s Arne Friedrich.

Soumare could get a chance to spend this weekend in the shop window against Chicago, with defenders Parke and Sheanon Williams likely out due to injury and suspension, respectively. If Soumare plays well, he could help seal a trade to the Fire, his former team, who reportedly have been in talks with the Union about Soumare.

But that’s not the only possible landing place. Here are a few others.

Possible Soumare trade scenarios:

  • Soumare to Chicago for allocation money and/or draft picks

This is the most likely deal. Former Hackworth youth player Brendan King could be a possible throw-in.

  • Soumare to New York for left back Heath Pearce

One high-priced, benched defender for another. The salaries would be a wash, as Pearce makes about $340,000. Each team would improve a spot on its back line. But would the Union want to pay that much for a left back benched in favor of Roy Miller?

  • A three-way deal sending Soumare to Chicago, Robbie Rogers to Los Angeles, and allocation money and/or draft picks to Philadelphia

Los Angeles is unlikely to part with its young homegrown starlets, notably Jose Villareal. Galaxy rookie left back Greg Cochrane would be an inexplicable inclusion after Hackworth passed on the Bucks County native in the draft. The question is how much allocation money Los Angeles has.

  • A four-way deal sending Soumare to Chicago, Rogers to Los Angeles, Stefan Frei and/or Danny Califf to Philadelphia, and a mix of Los Angeles draft picks, allocation money and/or players (Michael Stephens, etc.) to Toronto

Frei is a proven veteran shot-stopper who has lost his job to Joe Bendik. Califf looks increasingly marginalized in Toronto with Birmingham defender Steven Caldwell joining the Reds on loan. Hackworth is on record saying he wished Califf never left Philadelphia, and Califf has made clear he feels the same.

  • Soumare to Colorado for allocation money, draft picks and/or former Hackworth players Anthony Wallace or Nathan Sturgis

Wallace and Sturgis played for Hackworth as youth players, as did Chris Klute, who is on loan from Atlanta in the NASL. (Wallace also played at South Florida, where Hackworth had previously coached.) None is a regular starter, so allocation money and/or draft picks would likely be the biggest part of a potential deal. Danny Mwanga doesn’t make sense considering the Union’s depth at forward.

The notable raises
  • Keon Daniel

Daniel earned a raise of over $20,000 to a salary of $80,004. While Daniel hasn’t been consistently effective as a central attacking midfielder, he remains a stabilizing presence who deserves a role for the Union whether he’s starting or not.

  • Michael Farfan

Farfan got a raise of more than $40,000 after making the 2012 All-Star team, and performances like Saturday’s against Seattle offer a reminder why. He hasn’t looked as effective since Hackworth moved him to the left side to make room for Danny Cruz, but if you watch the sequence late in the Seattle game where Farfan drifted to the right side and absolutely destroyed a defender off the dribble, you’ll see how good he still is when deployed in his most comfortable spot.

  • Zac MacMath has not graduated Generation adidas, according to a Union official. That means his salary doesn’t count against the team’s salary budget. This is surprising, considering he was a regular starter for more than a season entering 2013.
  • Jimmy McLaughlin and Cristhian Hernandez don’t count toward the salary budget due to their homegrown player status.
  • Roger Torres has the highest salary of any non-regular. With Aaron Wheeler replacing him on the substitutes bench Saturday, there are no signs Torres will see the field anytime soon. Unless a rash of injuries hits the Union midfield to give him a chance, he’s probably gone at season’s end.
  • No guesswork here on exactly how much room the Union actually have in their $2.95 million salary budget. Allocation buydowns, USL loans and various other factors can affect that.
  • Philadelphia’s salary budget is managed as a collaborative effort between the team’s technical staff and CEO Nick Sakiewicz, according to a Union official.
  • The Union are effectively a small market team. Accept it. Their total team salary once again ranks well below the league’s top tier, and there’s no sign of that changing.

The full list of Union player salaries is below. The players on loan at Harrisburg are included in the list, as they can move between the teams. (Example: Don Anding’s recent return to the Union.)

Philadelphia Union player salaries

PlayerBase SalaryGuaranteed Compensation*
Jose Kleberson$495,000**$495,000
Bakary Soumare$310,000$350,000
Jeff Parke$205,000$216,500
Sebastien Le Toux$200,000$212.850.50
Jack McInerney$125,500$189,666.67
Amobi Okugo$101,250$184,250
Brian Carroll$176,400$176,400
Conor Casey$175,000$175,000
Zac MacMath$110,000$155,000
Michael Farfan$98,670$136,170
Danny Cruz$120,000$126,500
Roger Torres$121,968$125,093
Sheanon Williams$105,000$110,500
Michael Lahoud$90,000$93,333
Keon Daniel$80,004$80,004
Chris Albright$75,000$75,000
Jimmy McLaughlin$60,000$69,000
Cristhian Hernandez$62,500$64,375
Antoine Hoppenot$48,400$48,400
Gabriel Farfan$50,820$50,820
Matt Kassel$46,500$46,500
Raymon Gaddis$46,500$46,500
Brian Jordan$46,500$46,500
Aaron Wheeler$46,500$46,500
Chris Konopka$46,500$46,500
Don Anding$35,125$35,125
Leo Fernandes$35,125$35,125
Carlos Valdes -- on loan$321,000$321,000
Zach Pfeffer -- on loan$65,000$75,000
TOTAL$3,113,262 ***$3,223,762 ***
* The guaranteed compensation figure includes the annual average bonus payout in addition to the base salary.
** Designated players count $368,750 against the salary budget.
*** Total figures do not include salaries for players on loan.


  1. Honestly, I am STILL in MAJOR denial that we are trading Soumare. It’s inexplicable to me. We give up a 1st rounder for a former All Star, someone who really has given us no reason to believe he has fallen off in a major way, and we DON’T even give him a CHANCE to earn a spot?
    We don’t even TRY him a CB, and Okugo at DMid? It’s insulting.
    Hell – we have someone with no pedigree like Gaddis shoved to LB; we had a former midfielder there for most of last year. We are watching Daniel flounder at CAM and Williams suffer because Cruz is in front of him.
    And we CAN’T even give Soumare a chance!?!?
    It’s just maddening. There is no reason for it to end like this. This is a situation that should have been harnessed to make us a better team.

    • Great One says:

      I’ve got news for you, I think it’s almost 100% certainty that Albright plays Saturday and not Soumare. It’s a joke. Hackworth has no reason for the decisions he makes.

      • JediLos117 says:

        I agree with you, I dont think Soumare will play.
        I dont understand why any fan would want a player who openly requests a trade away from your team to play.
        Thats why I dont want him to play, he dont want to play here.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Team needs to see what he’s got, before making the call on him. He might be able to help. Big guy. Not too far removed from being very good.
        I think that he just wants to play…ANYWHERE. I can respect that.

      • Great One says:

        He wants to play, period. he did initially want to play for us, before he was banished.
        I want him to play because he offers the best option for our team. Even if you argued that before, you cannot possibly say that Chris Albright, or some other mashup, will offer a better option for these games.
        I honestly don’t understand your disdain for Soumare (Torres?). Is it because you believe the team is functioning so well right now? Is it because you believe the coaching staff no matter what? Is it because you like Carroll so much, and Soumare playing (normally) would essentially remove Carroll? I’m not being a smart ass, I really would like to know.
        All that being said, Soumare is far and away the best choice for Saturday.

      • JediLos117 says:

        I’ll already answered my thoughts on Soumare.
        Everybody including myself had assumed he was our CB in the preseason, Okugo claimed the spot in preseason.
        Since then, he requested a trade. I aint got no respect for that. I respect Torres, he aint playing and doesnt request a trade. Torres seems to be willing to fight for a spot.
        I’m not as convinced as you are that Okugo would automatically bench Carroll…
        I remember watching Soumare play against Chicago last year when he was fully fit. Dude looked slow and rather poor overall…I have not seen anything other than a brief preseason appearance to conclude he is any better than that same Soumare.

      • Great One says:

        Fair point, but how would you suggest seeing anything more of him if he doesn’t play? Also I think most people are choosing to look at the hundreds of games? he played before as opposed to the one game he played last year.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Soumare’s knee was nowhere near fully fit. Anyone who has had the dreaded ligament damage knows that even the slightest gimpiness can throw off your game. He came back too soon, hence the quick re-injury.
        Can’t hate on a player for wanting to play. To the outsider, Hackworth seemed to have no intention of Soumare playing, no matter his form.
        Okugo is not a CB. He will make the move eventually. Why prolong the inevitable adjustment process? Is Carroll THAT much of a positive factor defensively? He is non-existent offensively.

    • It was duly noted in Hack’s press conference that Albright just so happened to have a great week of practice. LOL

  2. Great piece. Trade scenarios are obviously speculative but with Chicago a fulcrum (to unload Rogers and get Soumare), the ones you suggest make sense. But what evidence do we have that Chicago wants Soumare?

  3. Union Rumors says:

    I don’t see Colorado being in the mix for Soumare, especially after acquiring German Mera on loan from Deportivo Cali.

  4. neck label says:

    why is philly a small market team?
    i dont understand.

    • According to this we are 10/19.
      Not great … but not exactly insult inducing either.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I read something (honestly can’t remember where) when the team first started back in 2010 that CEO Nick Sakiewicz was in it to make money and that we should be skeptical while he is in charge. I never forgot it, and it could all be BS but it certainly helps things add up as to why we are a small market team in a big market city

      • Excellent post. We would all do well to remain skeptical of Sakiewicz’s dealings…he and the rest of his toadies in the front office are not to be trusted. Again, the team would do well to have a proper talent evaluator running the show above Hack, not a glorified suit whose primary motivation is personal and financial gain.

    • philsoc8 says:

      The Union aren’t a small-market team, we are a small-owner team.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Well, I guess I was (very) concisely making the statement that the Union behave as small market teams behave. It’s not an insult. Really, there is very little difference between teams 7-18. (Chivas USA is in its own class at the bottom.)

      The league’s first tier consists of New York and Los Angeles. Toronto would be right with them if not for their losing ways. So put them in the next tier with Montreal, Vancouver, and particularly Seattle.

      And then it’s everyone else. Everyone else behaves as small market teams. Of them, Portland, Kansas City and Real Salt Lake are the models.

      • That was the line that most stood out to me in the post too, reminding me of the Phillies ownership characterization before the ’07-’11 run. It’s an interesting topic and one as critical to being a fan of the team as any other. Possible to get a full post on it? You guys taking requests? ::slides you a five-spot::

      • Dan Walsh says:

        Sure! Admittedly, I threw the line in as an afterthought, but you’re probably right about it being worth a full post. I’ll keep it in mind, and when it seems timely, I can go to it.

  5. John O'Donnell Jr. says:

    I find it more troubling that we keep having are highest paid players ride the bench, year after year. Roger Torres I just don’t get, he was praised in the pre-season for being in shape and now what? I can’t wait to see the team in the US Cup and how they play. Good forbid these players stand out, Hackworth will have to do his best Andy Reid.

    • Now Hack says that Roger Torres “is a young guy that he has a lot of faith in but he needs to play his way back up the depth chart.”
      Is that so?
      I think it’s a case of him either being a “Nowak guy”, or Hack moving the goalposts yet again.

  6. I’ll make some guesswork on the salary cap room question with the following assumptions:

    1. For argument’s sake, assume no allocation money available for buydowns (which we know is not true- didn’t make playoffs, etc).
    2. Kleberson is a DP and only counts for $368,750 against cap.
    3. MacMath is still GA
    4. Jimmy McLaughlin and Christian Hernandez are HG
    5. Only players 1-20 count (subtract MacMath, McLaughlin and Hernandez, and that includes everyone down to Chris Konopka)
    If I add all that, I interestingly get $2,951,437.17 – suspiciously close to the $2.95M cap. Who knows how much allocation money we have, but my guess is that it doesn’t add up to much, unless there has been a big trade for “allocation money” in which we could assume a near similar value for that player.
    Bottom line, my guess is that we are probably close to maxing out our budget, which means the only way we are going to add any serious quality is if Jay Sugarman and Nick decide that they want to spend money (either from revenue or their own pockets).
    That is where the question of “what kind of a market is Philly?” becomes really important. In general, Philadelphia is a top-ten sports market, so we should expect our owners to spend about the same as other similarly sized markets. Now, being a young club, there is probably some trepidation in spending too much too soon (a smart decision considering the scary-looking attendance this year).
    It starts to make a lot of business sense that the Union are focusing on developing young talent rather than buying expensive proven talent. If we get lucky and groom just one superstar that goes to the BPL for 5 million, that would make a bigger impact on the club’s bank account that increasing ticket sales by 1%. It’s a good strategy if your ignoring the fans need for an MLS Cup today and looking instead for a playoff team for the next decade.
    The real unknown, and most important questions, is how our owners decide to spend the money.

  7. Matt Kirk says:

    I totally agree with James, John and AD22.
    To start if we trade Soumare away, I want Hackworth out faster than I wanted Nowak out. Just think about it…former all star, overseas experience, plenty of time to mesh with the team with all the training sessions he has had, it just makes logical sense. Even to someone who does not remotely like sports would come to the conclusion that trading Soumare would be a loss.
    I am absolutely sick of Hackworth’s love affair with BC. Is BC a good player, yes, am I glad he is on our team, yes but if you are trying to build this team from youth which we are why not put Okugo in his natural Center defensive mid position? he has the technical ability to dictate the distribution of the ball out of the back and can defend just as well. I also think his size is slightly lacking for a center back, but that could just be me.

    Also if Hackworth is willing to play Gaddis, why not play Torres? What’s the point of the youth on our team if you are just going to have them rot on the bench, loan him out or give him minutes in the first team, it is very simple.

    I am also starting to feel that Hackworth and the FO are just trying to undo the moves done by Nowak, which is good and bad. Getting rid of Lopez and a few other players brought in by him make sense but bringing back Le Toux maybe was not the best decision, performance wise, for ticket sales, yeah sure but lets be honest, unless Le Toux returns to his 2010-2011 form he just was not worth bring back. As I said before, getting rid of a former all star with overseas experience just because he was brought in under the Nowak regime just does not make sense.

    • I agree completely. Even in this article it talks about Daniel lacking in the OCM. Why not play Torres after such a good preseason? There certainly seems to be the Hackworth favorites for certain positions regardless of whether those are the usual positions of the players or if we have plenty of people who naturally play there.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        What pisses me off is that after that great preseason, Torres never even got a shot to see if it could carry over. I could see sitting him after he didn’t play well, but to not give him a shot is just dumb

  8. Adu’s salary was not 650,000, that was his guaranteed compensation.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      According to who?

      Not that the distinction matters in Adu’s case, to be honest. It’s semantics. I’m the guy who first reported the $650,000 figure, and the distinction between the two in his case (since he was a designated player) was so insignificant that I didn’t ask Adu’s agent to clarify which it was.

  9. OneManWolfpack says:

    My dad continues to say that Hack only plays Americans. That’s why certain people can’t get off the bench or have gotten loaned out, etc. I don’t think that’s the real reason but it could be a part of it. Thoughts anyone? And feel free to call me crazy… it won’t bother me!! HA!

    • Daniel. LeToux. Valdes. – all Hack favorites.

      • LeToux is on the bench. Valdes is gone. Daniel … well, he’s a native English speaker. Maybe it’s more an issue with ESL players.

      • Henry O'Hara says:

        I am very upset that LeToux is not starting. My wife said she did not want to renew our season tickets unless LeToux was brought back. I can understand him not playing the full 90 minutes but I think he deserves more than 3 minutes at the end of the game.

  10. The Duke says:

    So the question becomes “What stops the cycle of poor play makes the fans leave which decreases market money which leads to no big signings which leads to poor play which leads to…”

    I’ll tell you what doesn’t break the cycle: Sitting the players the fans want on the field. I honestly think our attendance would be up if we played Soumare and Torres but had a worse record.

    • I for one am less inclined to go to games because of Hack’s player selection. That said, if the team is winning games, I would be more inclined to go regardless of who is on the field. Putting the players I want to see on the pitch amplify that inclination even more. To summarize, poor performances coupled with starting non fan favs could account for the decrease in attendance at games.

  11. Great One says:

    I hate to say it, but there seems to be one big, obvious reason these players are not getting any time. MONEY.
    Think about it:
    Carroll vs Soumare (saves $174k)
    Carroll vs Kleberson (saves $319k)
    Daniel vs Kleberson (saves $415k)
    Daniel vs Torres (saves $45k)
    Cruz vs Kleberson (saves $369k)
    So these guys are not Hackworth guys, and when we can get rid of them they will save us a ton of money. So why trade them? At the end of the year Soumare, Kleberson and Torres will be gone, effectively getting rid of $970,000 of salary. Does anyone on earth believe we’ll use that space to sign a couple big players?

    • “Kleberson’s loan expires at season’s end if not renewed. That means the Union could clear his salary from the books in 2014 and gain spending flexibility in 2014.”

      Our “small market” fan base really wants a BIG name to come to our team. Why seduce the fans into thinking we have a game changer coming to town if it was just a way to get Adu of the books.

  12. I would definetly like getting Pearce, but I doubt that will happen. Also, frei would be an instant upgrade over macmath in goal.

  13. Boy Garfan is getting shafted. No good deed (playing out of pos for 2yrs) goes unpunished.

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