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Comparing 2014 MLS team spending - teams largely stay in similar positions year to year

Where are Chivas USA ranked, and what pattern emerges overall?

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Players Union released salary figures for the first time in 2014 on Thursday, and that gave us a chance to see something regarding player salaries in the league.

To get a sense of where teams rank against each other, here's a comparison of all the teams currently in MLS (Orlando City had four players under contract, but they aren't playing in MLS this year so I did not include them) and how much they spend.

Of course, I must stress the caveats that these are not the official salary cap figures for any team, and do not take into account the various mechanisms used in the proper salary cap, like Designated Players, Young Designated Players, Homegrown players, Generation adidas, allocation money paid down, etc. It's just a straight comparison of figures based on the info the Players Union releases.

Team Total Base Salary
1 Toronto FC $15,609,766.50
2 LA Galaxy $12,291,473
3 New York Red Bulls $10,195,154
4 Seattle Sounders $9,633,959
5 Vancouver Whitecaps $5,411,558
6 Montreal Impact $4,578,914
7 FC Dallas $4,130,404
8 San Jose Earthquakes $3,975,580
9 Philadelphia Union $3,921,099
10 Portland Timbers $3,773,918.12
11 D.C. United $3,634,922
12 Sporting Kansas City $3,499,162
13 Real Salt Lake $3,486,519
14 Chicago Fire $3,390,587
15 Columbus Crew $3,245,007.50
16 Houston Dynamo $3,224,869
17 Colorado Rapids $3,037,058
18 Chivas USA* $2,933,741.04
19 New England Revolution $2,884,403

* Though I included all of the current listed players for the other 18 teams, I did not include Daniel Fragoso or Andrew Ribeiro for Chivas USA's total, since both players are no longer with the team. There have been a handful of moves around the league, including Chivas USA, that mean these figures are already a bit outdated. Still, these are the figures we have to work with.

If you follow Chivas USA, the big development for them is that they are not bringing up the rear at the moment! That's right, there's actually a team with lower net Base Salary spending than the Goats, and the New England Revolution hold that dubious distinction.

In fact, the figures between the clubs are not very different. What was the big issue last year was that Chivas were so far behind the rest of the league, including the next-cheapest team, to the tune of somewhere around a half million dollars throughout the season. The gap between Chivas and the Revs is essentially one player's salary near the end of the roster.

The other trend I found in comparing the team figures between this year and the first figures from last year is that the same teams largely remain bunched in the same zones.

Let's divide the above table into three zones. At the top, five of the six teams ranked in the top six this year remain the same, though the individual places differ. The only teams to swap "zones" is Toronto FC, ranked 8th last year but vaulted up to 1st this year, and the Chicago Fire, ranked 6th last year and falling to 14th this year.

At the other end of the rankings, four of the five teams at the bottom remain the same the last two years, with only D.C. United moving up (from 16th to 11th) and the Houston Dynamo moving down (13th to 16th).

As a result, though teams spend more or less from year to year and even from transfer window to transfer window, the basic groupings (top, middle, bottom) of the rankings over this season and last have not changed much at all.

Of course, it would be worth digging into old figures and comparing figures from years before 2013 as well, but that's on the to-do list. It's also worth noting that although there is considerable turnover in players leaguewide from year to year, there are still a lot of players on multiyear deals, and it's not necessarily a surprise to see a pattern in comparing team spending over two seasons, since contracts carry over and most teams do not overhaul the roster each year like Chivas do.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!