Biggest bang for the buck in MLS

Last Friday the MLS Players’ Union released the league’s most recent salary update and with all of that disclosed, we thought we’d go bargain hunting in the limited data available.


Starting on the offensive side of the ball, we looked at two stats: goals and cQxG assisted and then crunched the numbers to see  who was paid the least for each.


Dollars per Goal


Dollars per cQxG Assisted


One name stands out: Michael Barrios. The 25 year old Colombian signed with FC Dallas last February and improved upon his already impressive rookie campaign in this, his second, season in MLS. With nine goals to his name and a guaranteed compensation of just $70,000, Barrios is the only player in MLS paid less than $10,000 per goal. Though it’s only translated to two assists, Barrios has assisted 4.51 cQxG this season, which is again best in the league when considering his pay.


Coming in at two and three on the dollars per goal scored list are a pair of teammates from Orlando City: Kevin Molino and Cyle Larin. Larin leads the way for Orlando with 14 goals, but on a dollars per goal basis, Molino has been slightly more efficient. The other claim Molino has over Larin is that he also finished sixth when looking at dollars paid per unit of cQxG created. Beside the aforementioned Barrios and Molino, Tommy McNamara is the only other player to appear in both top 10s. McNamara has played well this season netting five goals for NYCFC and creating assisting nine more with 3.21 cQxG and, though he earns more in pay than Barrios, his guaranteed five-figure compensation of $85,000 makes him a bargain.


In defense, we look at the dollars paid for two key stats: tackles + interceptions and cQxG blocked. Of course these stats don’t give the full picture of defensive performance, but they are two important things defenders do.


Dollars per Tackles + Interceptions


Dollars per cQxG Blocked


While no player dominates these top 10s the way Barrios does the offensive lists, there is more overlap between the two: Jalil Anibaba, Daniel Steres, Jonathan Campbell, Ken Tribbett and Richie Marquez have made their way into both top 10s.


Ken Tribbett and Richie Marquez could very well make up the CB pairing for a playoff team if the Union can hold off the Revs and Tribbett is chosen over Josh Yaro, who has had concussion problems in his rookie year.


Another interesting bit that stands out here is that only one out of 15 players is making six figures: Orlando’s Tommy Redding. Yes, defenders are typically paid less than forwards and midfielders, but this highlights the availability of value players on the defensive side of the ball.


While some MLS salary data is made public by the MLSU, salary lengths, performance bonuses and any compensation from contracts between the players and teams are not included in the release. This means some of these players who have been providing great value to their teams this season may not be up for a raise for some time (or may be receiving additional compensation not publicly reported). A clear picture of player compensation is simply not available for thorough analysis. Imagine, though, if Michael Barrios, the leading scorer on the best team in MLS were inked for just $70,000 for a few more years? What a bargain that would be!