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Comparing 2015 MLS team spending - expansion teams spending big to compete now

It looks like the trend for new teams is to spend like the big spenders.

Don't worry, MLS: One of these teams will pick up the dinner check.
Don't worry, MLS: One of these teams will pick up the dinner check.
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

It's MLS players salary release day! We aren't doing as much coverage of it this year because we have no active MLS team's figures to pour over, but it's still interesting to see some of the trends coming out of the 2015 salaries.

Trend No. 1: Pay is going up. There are only a handful of guys making the absolute minimum of $50,000, though a lot of players are still making $60,000. Still, the effects of the new CBA, which was just ratified this week, are being felt in players' wallets.

Trend No. 2: Team spending has been segmented once more into the class of big spenders and everybody else.

First, my standard disclaimer on this comparison: 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.

Rank Team Total Base Salary
1 Toronto FC $20,401,075
2 LA Galaxy $18,820,008.08
3 New York City FC $17,347,421.04
4 Orlando City SC $10,577,597
5 Seattle Sounders $9,866,048.04
6 New England Revolution $5,921,005.08
7 Chicago Fire $5,842,783
8 Vancouver Whitecaps $5,433,490
9 Philadelphia Union $5,269,923
10 Sporting Kansas City $5,209,250
11 Portland Timbers $5,123,133.08
12 San Jose Earthquakes $4,557,892.24
13 Columbus Crew SC $4,557,354.96
14 Colorado Rapids $4,555,502.04
15 Houston Dynamo $4,504,875
16 Montreal Impact $3,950,868.92
17 Real Salt Lake $3,888,884
18 D.C. United $3,851,509
19 FC Dallas $3,669,999.92
20 New York Red Bulls $3,437,738

The main groupings this year are between the Top 5 teams, who are paying at least $9.8 million in player salaries, on up to TFC's astronomical $20.4 million, and the remaining 15 teams, ranging from New England's $5.9 million to the Red Bulls' $3.4 million.

However, if you compare this to the April 2014 team ranking, we see basically the same situation. As I noted in that article, teams more or less stay in the same positions, or at least broad groupings, year to year. Only a few teams tend to make any real movement year to year, even though many of these teams feature a decent amount of roster turnover.

The biggest movers between last year and this year were the New England Revolution (19th place last year with a $2,884,403 number, now the highest of the "non-spenders"), who moved up 13 places, and the New York Red Bulls, who dropped out of the "spender" category at the top (they were 3rd last year with $10,195,154) all the way down to the very bottom this year. Dropping the likes of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill and not replacing them with similarly high-priced players means it's a no-brainer the Red Bulls have dropped, but to see them fall this far is pretty interesting as far as the current approach at the club.

The final point, that could be useful for the expansion teams like LAFC, Atlanta United FC, Minnesota United FC, and if/when there will be a Miami team: The two expansion teams, despite being far different in their respective club building projects over the years, are both in the ranks of the spenders. There's no guarantee in MLS, of course, that paying for a few very expensive players will lead to real success, but the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders have found real success with that strategy, and barring a curse rearing its ugly head, Toronto FC should finally reach the playoffs this year, meaning their plan of throwing tons of money around may finally bear some kind of fruit.

We'll have to see how the rest of this season goes for New York City FC and Orlando City, but indications are quite clear, that the strategy for an expansion team to really make a mark the first year is to try to spend like the big spenders. Something to keep in mind, again, for the expansion teams entering in the next few years.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!