Gallardo Is United's Highest-Paid Player Ever

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 4, 2008

Argentine playmaker Marcelo Gallardo, the first player signed by D.C. United under MLS's designated player rule, will earn $1.87 million this season while the rest of the roster will combine for $2.3 million.

According to figures made available by the MLS Players Union, Gallardo will receive $1.5 million in base salary and an additional $374,000 as part of his guaranteed compensation.

Gallardo, 32, is the highest-paid player in United history and has the third-largest salary in MLS this season behind English midfielder David Beckham of Los Angeles ($6.5 million guaranteed) and Mexican forward Cuauhtémoc Blanco of Chicago ($2.67 million).

The top-earning Americans are New York midfielder Claudio Reyna ($1.26 million) and Los Angeles forward-midfielder Landon Donovan ($900,000).

All except Donovan were acquired under a rule enacted after the 2006 season that allows teams to sign a high-profile player outside normal budgetary regulations.

MLS is responsible for $400,000 of a designated player's compensation, while the club's investors pay the balance. Under the previous guidelines, the league paid the entire salary and placed restrictions on earnings.

Donovan's contract fell under a grandfather clause and he is not classified as a designated player.

United signed Gallardo -- a two-time World Cup player for Argentina who spent years in Europe's top leagues -- to replace 2006 league MVP Christian Gomez. After 3 1/2 seasons in Washington, Gomez declined United's offers on a new contract valued at $325,000 annually and was subsequently traded to the Colorado Rapids, who agreed to pay him a base salary of $385,000 and $430,000 overall. United acquired a second designated player spot for Gomez, but has yet to utilize it.

Gallardo's compensation dwarfs that of United forward Luciano Emilio, the 2007 MLS leading scorer and most valuable player who is second on the club at $313,125. Emilio's representatives are hoping to renegotiate his contract after this season.

Before Gallardo's arrival, teenager Freddy Adu (now playing for Benfica in Portugal) had the highest salary in United history at $550,000.

Offseason acquisitions Gonzalo Martinez ($244,750), Gonzalo Peralta ($199,000) and Franco Niell ($152,500) are among United's highest-paid players.

Seven of United's 25 players have developmental contracts, which pay between $12,900 and $17,700. MLS's minimum senior salary is $33,000.

United Notes: Jaime Moreno, MLS's all-time leading scorer, said he hopes to play one half of tomorrow night's home opener against Toronto after being sidelined for three weeks with a hamstring injury.

Coach Tom Soehn was more cautious, saying, "He hasn't really opened up his stride yet and today is probably the first day we pushed him a little bit. He's been out a while so his fitness is lacking for what it takes to play a game. We will have to ease him back in."

Moreno was with the team for the league opener last Saturday at Kansas City and the first Champions' Cup match Tuesday in Mexico, but did not play.

Meantime, the club acquired rookie defender Mike Zaher from Toronto for a first-round pick in next year's supplemental draft and plans to sign him to a developmental contract.

United also decided not to acquire Brazilian forward Cezar, who had been training with the team for several weeks.

Club officials said he would be better off returning to Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro than waiting for playing time as United's fifth forward.

· GALAXY 2, EARTHQUAKES 0: David Beckham scored his first goal in an MLS game and assisted on another to help Los Angeles win its home opener over expansion San Jose. Beckham took a pass from Landon Donovan at the top of the box in the ninth minute, and fired the ball into the back of the net.

· FIRE 4, REVOLUTION 0: Tomasz Frankowski scored two first-half goals to help Chicago rout visiting New England.

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