Analysis / Union

Bedoya signing completes roster build

Photo Marjorie Elzey

If Ernst Tanner’s intentions towards two promising youngsters remain as he stated them last December, the signing of Alejandro Bedoya probably ends the Philadelphia Union’s 2024 preseason roster build.

When the Jose Riasco and David Vazquez signings come in mid and late February, the roster will total 31. Supplemental Roster Slot 31, for which the Union once again became eligible with the signing of goalkeeper Oliver Semmle, will be filled. So will senior roster slots 19 and 20 for the first time in the Sporting Director’s tenure.

Using our best unraveling of the byzantine labyrinth of MLS roster rules, here is what we think the roster may look like on roster compliance day. That day is probably 2 a.m. Friday morning February 16 . Everyone on the Concacaf 35-man roster must be eligible to participate in a regular-season league match in his home country in order to be eligible for the Concacaf Champions Cup.

The chart below is entirely unofficial. We followed last year’s salary cap classifications when possible and guessed the rest based on the rules.

Ages are calculated from February 1 .  Age affects eligibility for Supplemental Roster Slots 25-31. Anyone older than 24 must be in supplemental slots 21-24.

For us in the public domain, salary information is unknown after September 15 of last year. That is the information used even though 12 contracts have been – or will have been – signed more recently:  David Vazquez, Jose Riasco, Alejandro Bedoya, Oliver Semmle, Markus Anderson, Kai Wagner, Jamir Berdecio, Nick Pariano, Isaiah LeFlore, Chris Donovan, Jesus Bueno, and Sanders Ngabo.

U N I O N    E S T I M A T E D    2 0 2 4    S A L A R Y    C A P
Player Pos Age Status ’23 Salary
S E N I O R   R O S T E R
1 Mikael Uhre S 29.3 Senior 01 $1,700,000
2 Daniel Gazdag AM 27.9 Senior 02 $1,200,000
3 Julian Carranza S 23.7 Senior 03 $950,000
4 Jakob Glesnes RCB 29.9 Senior 04 $900,000
5 Alejandro Bedoya RM 36.8 Senior 05 $780,000
6 Andre Blake GK 33.2 Senior 06 $775,000
7 Jack Elliott LCB 28.4 Senior 07 $750,000
8 Kai Wagner LB 27.0 Senior 08 $630,000
9 Tai Baribo S 26.0 Senior 09 $600,000
10 Jose Martinez DM 29.5 Senior 10 $550,000
11 Olivier Mbaizo RB 26.5 Senior 11 $300,000
12 Leon Flach LM 22.9 Senior 12 $280,000
13 Damion Lowe RCB 30.7 Senior 13 $275,000
14 Joaquin Torres S 27.0 Senior 14 $260,000
15 Jesus Bueno DM 24.8 Senior 15 $170,000
16 Nathan Harriel RB 22.8 Senior 16 $160,000
17 Jack McGlynn LM 20.6 Senior 17 $160,000
18 Olwethu Makhanya CB 19.8 Senior 18 $150,000
19 Matt Real LB 24.6 Senior 19 $140,000
20 Chris Donovan S 23.5 Senior 20 $69,000
S U P P L E M E N T A L   R O S T E R S
21 Quinn Sullivan RM 19.8 Sup 21-24 $120,000
22 Holden Trent GK 24.6 Sup 21-24 $67,000
23 Jeremy Rafanello AM 23.8 Sup 21-24 $85,000
24 Oliver Semmle GK 25.8 Sup 21-24 Unknown
25 Isaiah LeFlore LB 21.1 Sup 25-28 Unknown
26 Sanders Ngabo M 19.6 Sup 25-28 Unknown
27 Jamir Berdecio RB 21.5 Sup 25-28 Unknown
28 Nick Pariano M 20.9 Sup 25-28 None
29 Markus Anderson S 20.1 Sup 29-30 Unknown
30 Jose Riasco S 20.0 Sup 29-30 Unknown
31 David Vazquez AM 17.9 Sup 31 None
L O A N E D    A W A Y
Nelson Pierre S 18.9 $67,000
Brandan Craig LCB 19.8 $115,000
Richard Odada M 23.2 $95,000

Without knowing the details of each of the three loan agreements above, we cannot know whether those salaries continue to count against the 2024 salary cap of $6,425,000. They may.

For the record, 2024 GAM has grown to  $3,093,000, and TAM has shrunk to $2,125,000.

Esoterica about the Union’s 2023 salary cap

We have deduced that Union ownership paid only $49,000 in extra salary money above and beyond what the league provided in 2023.  We have no idea what ownership might be required to contribute annually to the league’s salary fund.

The  seven largest Union salaries each exceeded 2023’s maximum individual salary budget charge of $651,250  (The charge increases year to year by a percentage set in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and so does not round to the nearest thousand.) Were there nothing else, Union ownership would have had to cover those seven differences themselves.

But Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) still exists.

TAM can be used to pay down some of a club’s salaries that exceed the maximum budget charge. There are limits and rules. TAM and its sister, General Allocation Money  or GAM,  cannot be mixed together in any given year to reduce a single player’s salary budget charge.  The upper limit on TAM usage in 2023 was $1,651,250. And in 2023 TAM could not reduce a salary charge below $150,000. In simple English, a huge DP salary cannot be entirely bought down.

The seven mentioned 2023 Union contracts total $2,399,000. less than the $2,700,000 TAM available to the Union in 2023.  Union ownership almost certainly paid the $49,000 by which Uhre’s salary exceeded TAM’s 2023 upper limit.

A late development

Jose Riasco is still with Venezuela’s U23 squad in CONMEBOL’s 2024 PreOlympic qualification tournament.  He dressed but did not play against Brazil in Caracas Thursday when La Vinotinto  beat the Canary Squad 3-1 to pass Ecuador in its group standings and qualify for the final round of the tourney. That round consists of three games against Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay ending a week from Sunday

So Riasco might not join the Union in Clearwater until after Sunday, February 11th. And, while it would take an upset or two, he might still end up away for the Paris Olympics this summer.


  1. Re: TAM, could it be that the U haven’t bought down the salaries but are banking it for a summer acquisition if they need to replace Carranza or McGlynn? Not sure how the logic works for that

    • To be clear, I have no idea how the Union plan to use TAM for 2024.
      My esoterica paragraphs above concerned a guess about what they might have done last year in 2023.
      That said, “momentum” often means that what was done in a previous time continues to be done in the present and the immediate future. Look at how the entire financial investment industry behaves!
      The things known for 2024’s spending are that ownership needs to complete the buildings planned for the WSFS Sportsplex, and that up to half of Bedoya’s salary may not be charged against the salary cap because of his status this season as playing a role or roles in the front office.
      Beyond those two specific points lies the general one that players 2024 salaries will be higher than 2023 because of the automatic bonuses for goals scored, games started, games substituted, and games dressed that are mandated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
      And probably many contracts if not all mandate raises for the new year, as year-over-year monitoring of the players’ union’s semi-annual salary guides strongly suggests. There are individual datums here and there that suggest option years often call for generous raises. throughout the league, how many old veterans have their options declined but are re-signed by their original clubs? The clubs are trying to save money.

  2. paulcontinuim22 says:

    World Cup 2026 info drops.
    Linc’s participation goes only as far as the round of 16 on July 4;
    All US group games on the west coast;
    MetLife hosts the final.

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