Analysis

Estimating the Union’s contract negotiation priorities

Photo: Paul Rudderow

As of Thursday, July 15, 2021,  Andre Blake went from the highest club contract extension priority to the lowest because his new deal is done and announced.

Here is an estimate of the rest of Ernst Tanner’s current negotiating priorities for players already with the club.

The charts group players by what is currently known of their 2021 contract status.

A capital “O” in front of a number under the column “2021 contract status” indicates an option for the year is held by the club.

For these players, a club option was exercised to bring them back in 2021.

Players

1 – 4

Current contract Announced  

2021 contract status

Status Age  

 

 

Re-signing in ’21?

Matt Real 18-Jan-18 O 21 HG 22.0 Priority, depth & pipeline
Olivier Mbaizo 17-Apr-18 O 21 GC 23.9 Priority, if not being sold
Anthony Fontana 7-Jul-17 O 21 HG 21.8 Priority, if not being sold
Ilsinho 24-Jan-20 21 GC 35.8 Performance dependent

For this group, the contract’s last guaranteed year is 2021. Club options are unknown. Homegrowns’ future years are also unknown.

Players

5 – 13

Current contract Announced  

2021 contract status

Status Age  

 

 

Re-signing in ’21?

Sergio Santos 14-Dec-18 21 Intl 26.9 Priority, if no ’22 option
Greg Ranjitsingh 2-Apr-21 21 GC 28.0 Academy is years away
Cole Turner 17-Jul-19 21 HG 20.3 ?? Not needed
Jack de Vries 20-Aug-19 21 HG 19.3 ?? Not needed
Brandan Craig 12-Nov-20 21 HG 17.3 ?? Not needed
Nate Harriel 17-Jul-20 21 HG 20.2 ?? Not needed
Jack McGlynn 17-Aug-20 21 HG 18.0 ?? Not needed
Paxten Aaronson 19-Aug-20 21 HG 17.9 ?? Not needed
Quinn Sullivan 12-Nov-20 21 HG 17.3 ?? Not needed

Here, the contract’s last guaranteed year is 2021. Options exist for 2022.

Players

14 – 15

Current contract Announced  

2021 contract status

Status Age  

 

 

Re-signing in ’21?

Jack Elliott 22-May-19 21, O 22 Intl 25.9  Priority, option is safety net
Alejandro Bedoya 27-Feb-20 21, O 22 34.2 Option likely exercised
 

 These players are not likely to get negotiations in 2021.

Players

16 – 20

Current contract Announced  

2021 contract status

Status  Age   

 

 

Re-signing in ’21?

Jakob Glesnes 31-Jan-20 21, O 22, O 23 Intl 27.3 Unlikely
Jamiro Monteiro 10-Jan-20 21, 22, O 23 Intl/DP 27.6 Unlikely
Kacper Przybylko 28-Feb-20 21, 22, 23 Intl 28.3 Unlikely
Stuart Findlay 25-Feb-21 21, 22, O 23 Intl 25,8 Signed in ‘21
Leon Flach 31-Mar-21 21, 22, O 23, O 24 20.4 Signed in ‘21
Daniel Gazdag 11-May-21 21, 22, 23, O 24, O 25 Intl 25.4 Signed in ‘21
Alvas Powell 10-Jun-21 21 GC 27.0 Signed in ‘21
Joe Bendik 5-Mar-21 21 32.2 Re-signed in ‘21
Aurelien Collin 2-Apr-21 21 GC 35.4 Re-signed in ‘21
Cory Burke 2-Dec-20 21, 22, O 23 Intl 29.5 Re-signed in ‘21
Kai Wagner 15-Jan-21 21, 22, O 23 Intl 24.4 Re-signed in ‘21
Jose Martinez 27-Jan-21 21, 22, O 23, O 24 Intl 26.9 Re-signed in ‘21
Matt Freese 16-Mar-21 21, 22, O 23, O 24 HG 22.9 Re-signed in ‘21
Andre Blake 15-Jul-21 21, 22, 23, 24, O 25 GC 30.7 Re-signed in ‘21
Matej Oravec 20-Jan-20 21, 22, O 23 Intl 23.3 Loaned out till summer ’22
 

Please note that ever since Earnie Stewart arrived the Union have never announced details of their Homegrown contracts, either the numbers of years or options.

Please also note that a player gets first-team homegrown status only if the technical staff has seen something they are confident could develop into a contribution to the MLS roster. First-team Homegrowns have never been signed and then quickly dropped. A scan through the website’s Path document in the Academy segment of the website reinforces the point.

If a player earns homegrown status, expect him to be around for a while even though we know nothing of his contract details. Abrupt early dismissal has so far occurred before a player gets to first-team homegrown status, sometimes for reasons beyond the soccer pitch. The club believes in growth and knows its unpredictable speed often requires patience.

In Re:

The Olivier Mbaizo comment has no evidence supporting it, only the logic of signing Alvas Powell. And Powell’s signing could have nothing to do with Mbaizo’s future with the Union.

Powell could just be a pass through to get him back in the league while perhaps realizing a small profit. Powell’s total compensation from Inter Miami in 2020 was $281,625. His 2021 contract with the Union was announced as the senior roster minimum. Probably it reflects his MLS career’s 140 appearances, 125 starts, 6 goals and 10 assists, so its base will be noticeably higher than $81,375, hence the assumption that any profit may be small. It will be pro-rated to reflect a partial season.

The Matt Real comment reflects that Academy left back Anton Sorenson is fast but small and slight, and that after the 2018 season Ernst Tanner passed on signing Bethlehem’s Prosper Chiluya who was also fast but small and slight. The Drexel Hill defender is reliable and versatile and left backs are scarce.

The Greg Ranjitsingh comment, and category placement, reflects that the freshly-appeared Union II roster lists academy player Andrew Rick as its sole goalkeeper. Rick is 15 and a half, even younger than Tomas Romero was when he started the season opener against Bob Lilley’s Rochester Rhinos setting a record for youthfulness at goalkeeper. Rick seems to have leapfrogged the other older keepers, but his age and physical development suggest he may need a fill-in ahead of him next year.

If the club holds no option for 2022 on Sergio Santos, he moves to the head of the line as the top negotiating priority among the players already here. Including the Brazilian, there are three rostered true strikers only, with Gazdag, Fontana, Aaronson, and Sullivan available as midfielders who have moved up with some effectiveness in the past. Only one of the five strikers on the Union II roster is older than 17 and a professional, and he is still trying to prove that he deserves a homegrown contract.

Jack Elliott is behind Santos in priority only because the club holds an option for 2022, reducing the immediate urgency of retaining him.

Appendix: Salary data

Philadelphia Union – “Base Total Compensation” History – Players as of 7/21/21

Data hand-copied cell by cell from MLSPA website "Resources" menu, so double check it independently. https://mlsplayers.org/resources/salary-guide
https://mlsplayers.org/resources/salary-guide
Name2021*2020201920182017201620152014
Andre Blake$650,000 $600,008$500,004$500,000$186,500$138,000$123,000$113,000
Alejandro Bedoya$1,023,333 $1,023,333$1,266,250$1,266,250$1,197,250$1,166,254
Ilsinho$501,250$476,250$357,000$327,000$518,333$478,333
Jack Elliott$340,000$315,000$265,000$59,629$53,004
Anthony Fontana$108,426$89,793$78,677$73,421$61,421**
Matt Real$90,000$81,375$57,225$54,500
Cory Burke$400,770 $87,314$79,720$71,223
Olivier Mbaizo$89,513 $81,375$70,875$67,500
Kacper Przybylko$916,250$856,875$277,000$67,500
Matt Freese$115,500$82,650$77,650
Joe Bendik$200,000$200,000$144,000
Aurelien CollinAfter 4/15$200,000$175,000
Jamiro Monteiro$1,476,250$1,476,250$671,200
Sergio Santos$728,500$698,500$668,500
Kai Wagner$521,000$390,150$360,150
Jack de Vries$135,556$115,556$120,556**
Cole Turner$88,444$84,375
Jakob Glesnes$448,125$443,125
Matej Oravec$284,500$254,500
Jose Martinez$251,250$140,125
Paxten Aaronson$91,500
Brandan Craig$77,825
Nathan Harriel$87,500
Jack McGlynn$78,892
Quinn Sullivan$67,047
Stuart FindlayAfter 4/15
Leon FlachAfter 4/15
Greg RanjitsinghAfter 4/15
Daniel GazdagAfter 4/15
Alvas PowellAfter 4/15

“*” 2021 information is as of roster compliance day, 4/15/21. The MLSPA is expected to update the information this fall. Customarily they have done so on or about September 15. The new list should include those who signed or re-signed after 4/15.

“**” These boxes are apparently anomalous. They contain information that was published before the actual first-team contracts formally took effect.

Cory Burke, Kai Wagner, Jose Martinez, Matt Freese, Joe Bendik, and Aurelien were re-signed to new contracts before the roster compliance date, as their 2021 numbers above reflect. Andre Blake who re-signed since 4/15 still has the older number. Those who are new signings after 4/15 say so.

2021, 2020, 2019 = Tanner. 2018 = Tanner and Stewart. 2017, 2016 = Stewart. 2015, 2014 = Sakiewicz

13 Comments

  1. Interesting article – thanks!!
    With club’s priority being developing and selling talent, with how tired Bedoya has looked recently and noticing how the kids have come in at midfield to change the tempo, it’ll be interesting to see what the club wants to do at right midfield in 2022.
    Does Bedoya stay if he is not an every game starter or go to a team where he will be? Don’t get me wrong – love his attitude and intensity, but time catches up with us all.
    In terms of contract re-signing priorities, the most important for me was Ernst Tanner and I was very happy to see it done.

  2. Anthony Fontana joined a new agency yesterday, according to his instagram. So he is probably looking for a move, justifiably.

    • T.Coolguy says:

      If Fontana leaves on a free, that will be a pretty bad mishandling of his situation, especially after the year he had last year. Transfermarkt has has him listed as a 2.2million player, and while it might be difficult to recoup all that for a player in his last year of his contract, the Union easily could have picked up a useful transfer fee for him (either external transfer or allocation money in league). It’s a shame the club couldn’t use him better, but its even more of a shame they’re wasting a resource.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    .
    Quinn Sullivan has a German parent as per Tannenwald article recently. Why in the world did he sign a contract for $66,000. Anthony Fontana is a harbinger for these youth players. Anthony now, realizing he does not particualrly fit into this style of play trying to make something happen for himself before his career is all but over and getting an engineering degreee from Poly Technical Institute.
    .
    $66,000 to train and play at the highest level in this country. It is unbelievable…. let alone being relegated to Jim’s bench in perpetuity and realizing only later, you are essentially screwed.
    .
    I do realize the Sullivan’s are a family with cache and the all important connections and therefore likely to receive different treatment at some point with moving him, as per the Tannenwald article but still…. $66,000.
    .
    Just wow.

    • I understand being pessimistic about our style of play, that is one thing. But I mean when it comes to youth players I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt here? As does Sullivan?

      Sullivan does have a German passport, has trained at Dortmund (who are apparently still interested), and has a prodigy of a younger brother in the Academy. I’m sure the Sullivan family knows this as well as Ernst Tanner.

      I think it’s more likely that Sullivan took the deal knowing that he will get playing time. He knows that he is still 17 and can easily move abroad whenever he wants. For all we know, there is a agreement between Sullivan and the Union that they will transfer him by x date or after y offer. Perhaps Sullivan feels that even a year training with the Union and getting first team minutes and THEN moving to Dortmund at 18 is a good trade off for only 66K right now.

      I just think there are a lot of things that could be going on here, and the Unions track record with young players should be the one thing we should recognize they are doing mostly right.

      • It’s probably more the issue that it is very difficult for a club outside of the United States to sign Quinn Sullivan. So if he wants to play professionally before he’s 18, the Union is his best option (same reason why Caden Clark is still in New Jersey and not Leipzig).

        Without knowing more about Sullivan’s contract situation than we can know, it is somewhat noteworthy that he makes less than the rest of the Homegrowns who signed at the same time as he did. I wonder if that’s because he was only willing to sign for fewer years, so that he can make a move abroad more easily.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        James, your point is solid and I recognize it. It is most certainly a nuanced decision, and tbh, the fact you know about his younger brother tells me you are pretty well acquainted with the story beyond the layman. Picking up and moving to europe is an enormous decision and I aim not to take it lightly.
        .
        That said, a professional soccer player, being paid $66,000 is robbery at every level no matter the player’s age. It is tailored specifically to the benefit of the MLS Ecosystem and not the individual. They will turn that into a likely $4-8 million dollar windfall in the next couple of seasons. Yea for the Union. It’s what I’ve argued this enterprise should be focused on as an important metric for success, but 66,000 grand?
        .

    • It’s low for a soccer player across the board, but it’s not that low for a young homegrown. I think Jack DeVries signed the highest homegrown contract, and it was for $125,000.

    • Tim Jones says:

      Mightiest of Elephants, in the overall context of the sport around the world your shock at Sullivan’s $67,000 contract is spot on. You are correct in your shock.
      .
      The historical record that I saw while compiling that data strongly suggests that reserve roster minimums about the time the Union come into existence was roughly half that, or even less in the earliest years. I have not rechecked the following memory, so take it with several grains of salt. I think Rich Marquez’s first deal may have been $35 K.
      .
      The players’ union has been bumping things up in every CBA, and in fairness ownership has been agreeing, however grudgingly.
      .
      I have always looked at the discrepancies in HG initial salary numbers when compared to each other as an indication of the level of outside competition for the signature.
      .
      Given his play for Union II in 2020, Sullivan was for me the least likely to be signed because of his physical immaturity. He hustled intelligently but had moderate effects on games, for the most part.
      .
      His development this year is for me the most surprising roster story. That his salary was the lowest seemed to me to be correct on the merits as of late last fall.

      • It’s actually NOT all that low: https://playerscout.co.uk/football-academies/do-academy-players-get-paid/
        .
        Not sure how accurate that website is, but it points to academy players and first contracts being much lower than you would think.
        .
        We’re talking about a an unproven 17 year old kid too. There are folks in this world who give anything to make $66K per year.
        .
        The fact people are surprised he is making more to play a game than most teachers make is a bigger issue.

  4. Seems like the U could get a nice ROI on Martinez if they decide to sell at the end of the season. I love how he plays but if there is someone that could step in and play just as well you have to take a look at other opportunities for him.

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