Palencia Has Richest MLS Salary
Juan Francisco Palencia , a former Mexican national team forward who plays for Chivas USA, is the highest-paid player in MLS this year with total compensation of $1.36 million -- more than $400,000 ahead of the No. 2 player on the list, Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan .
According to documents obtained yesterday by The Washington Post, Palencia will receive a base salary of $692,308 and approximately $668,000 in bonuses. Palencia, who will turn 33 tomorrow, scored three goals in nine games last year and has not scored in three appearances this year. His teammate, 24-year-old midfielder Juan Pablo Garcia , is fourth on the MLS list at $624,260.
Donovan, widely regarded as the best player in MLS and a star on the U.S. national team, will earn $900,000 overall -- the same as last year when he was the league's highest-paid player. Kansas City forward Eddie Johnson is third at $875,000, followed by Garcia and D.C. United's Freddy Adu , who has a base salary of $300,000 and total compensation of $550,000 (the same figures as 2005, when he was third on the list).
Adu, who will turn 17 in June, was the highest-paid MLS player as a rookie in 2004, earning $500,000. Besides his MLS earnings, he makes several hundred thousand dollars a year through endorsement deals with, among others, Nike, Sierra Mist and Campbell Soup.
Each team has a salary cap of approximately $1.9 million, but it is believed that an individual player counts for no more than $300,000 toward that limit.
After Adu, the next highest-paid United players are South Americans: Bolivian forward Jaime Moreno ($241,250), Argentine midfielder Christian Gomez ($182,500) and Argentine forward Lucio Filomeno ($163,250).
The league list also exposes glaring differences in salaries. For example, while Palencia is earning $1.36 million, 14 of United's 28 players will make less than $36,500, and nine of those will get less than $16,500 under terms of developmental contracts.
-- Steven Goff