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Updating Chivas USA's Salary Dumping

Can we believe Chelís' claim that the team is hamstrung by the salary cap?

Cardozo: No longer on the books.
Cardozo: No longer on the books.

A couple of weeks ago, I started a discussion of Chivas USA's salary situation heading into 2013. At that time, the team had cut or lost six players, and using 2012 salary figures as released by the MLS Players' Union, the team had dumped a total of $1,090,000 in base salary ($1,410,666.67 in guaranteed compensation). With a few more recent moves, we can update the situation even further.

Name 2012 Base Salary 2012 Guaranteed Compensation
Paolo Cardozo $70,000 $81,250
Nick LaBrocca $95,288 $97,788
Rauwshan McKenzie $44,000 $44,000
Cesar Romero $33,750 $33,750
Casey Townsend $44,000 $79,000
Total (Added to previous total) $1,377,038 $1,746,454.67

He's still on the roster, and has not yet been moved, but all expectations are that Shalrie Joseph will be moving on sooner than later. If we figured his numbers into the total:

Name 2012 Base Salary 2012 Guaranteed Compensation
Shalrie Joseph $495,000 $554,333.33
Total (Added to previous total) $1,872,038 $2,300,788

So, if we include Joseph's salary, Chivas USA will end up clearing out somewhere between 60 and 75 percent of last season's salary from the books. Again, I have to reiterate that the salary figures used for the salary cap are never disclosed publicly by the team or the league, and those figures may not necessarily correspond to the figures released by the league. In addition, as I mentioned in my last article on the topic, teams have some means to circumvent the salary cap via methods like paying down salary with allocation money.

Still, the question must be asked: how much can Chivas USA clear from the books before management is content? Coach Chelís has continually beat the drum that Chivas USA have salaries that are too high for there to be much investment in the team for 2013. I don't want to disparage his assessment, but that simply rings hollow for me. The club currently lists 20 players on their roster (including McKenzie and Joseph, but again, they are gone or headed out the door), and they have cleared what appears to be well north of $1.5 million from the books so far this offseason. If the salary cap is expected to be around $3 million, what's the issue?

Other teams find the means to buy not just Designated Players, but expensive DPs at that, and still find a way to fit under the salary cap. If Oswaldo Minda comes back, (as it looks like he will with the reports that he's returned to training) and if Joseph doesn't come back, then the club will have one DP, unless they go out for more.

The way the picture looks as of today is that Chivas USA is going to go young and cheap for 2013. With a couple of exceptions, the trialists in preseason camp are players who would probably make around $44,000 each. The players from Guadalajara (minus Antonio Rodriguez, who is not staying in California) could make more money, or they could be on the hook for a small amount as Jorge Vergara could choose to pay them from the parent club, where a salary cap does not exist.

Last season, Chivas USA rose up the payroll rankings in MLS, and were no longer a bottom three club in terms of player spending. However, the results were as dismal as ever, and nobody could say that just because they spent more, they got more quality. The reality is that a relatively inexpensive team full of younger players very well could perform better than 2012's veteran-heavy roster. Of course, they could do just as bad, or even worse. Still, the continuous chorus that Chivas USA doesn't have any money because of the salary cap structure just doesn't make sense. The byzantine salary rules are part of learning the ropes of MLS, and hopefully, the new regime in place finds their bearings as soon as possible in that regard.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!