Fire

Boosted by Bastian Schweinsteiger's big salary, Fire rank fourth in MLS payroll

Boosted by Bastian Schweinsteiger's big salary, Fire rank fourth in MLS payroll

The Major League Soccer Players Union releases player salaries twice a year and it always makes for good statistics and headlines.

While the numbers the Players Union release aren't always perfectly accurate, for the most part it gives a good view of who makes what and what teams are spending big or not. Some players are listed lower than their actual salary for a variety of reasons, but teams stay quiet on this matter so this remains hazy.

It's also important to note that these salaries are not what the player costs against the cap. Transfer fees factor into a player's cap hit and are among the other costs that aren’t included in the salaries listed.

With that in mind, today the MLSPU dropped the salary numbers, dated April 15, 2017. Here are some of the interesting notes on the salaries:

  • The big news from a Chicago Fire standpoint is that Bastian Schweinsteiger's $5.4 million salary is seventh-highest in the league and is a big reason why the Fire moved from 20th to fourth in payroll since the last time the Players Union released salaries. By the time the numbers were released last September, the Fire had already shed designated players Gilberto and Kennedy Igboananike. Those two combined to make just over $2 million, which would have put the Fire just outside the top 10 in the league rankings.


  • Schweinsteiger makes more than the listed payrolls of four teams (Minnesota, D.C., Montreal and Houston). Montreal was the biggest drop in payroll in terms of rank (eighth to 21st) with Didier Drogba ($2,116,667) coming off the books. The LA Galaxy shed the most amount of money from a year ago, just over $6 million, with Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard coming off the books.
  • Schweinsteiger is the fourth-highest paid midfielder.

Jorge Bava ($267,133) is sixth-highest paid among goalkeepers. Last year's Fire starter, Sean Johnson ($220,008), is ninth.

Nemanja Nikolic ($1,906,333) is the seventh-highest paid forward. David Accam ($820,937.50) is 15th and Michael de Leeuw ($564,212.50) is 25th.

Johan Kappelhof ($570,000) is ninth among defenders.

  • Among returning Fire players, Luis Solignac has the biggest listed raise. He had his option declined by the Fire in the offseason, but still re-signed, implying that the option was for more than what he ended up signing for. Solignac's listed guaranteed compensation went from $85,000 to $328,312.
  • The next biggest percentage raise is Jonathan Campbell, who went from $78,125 as a rookie to $109,875 this year. This is a bit ironic considering Campbell has already been on the bench more this season than in all of 2016, when he led the team in minutes played.
  • Homegrown player Djordje Mihailovic is the highest-paid among the rookies, coming in at $80,000.

Here are the players listed as making $2 million or more:

Kaka (Orlando): $7,167,500.00

Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto): $7,115,555.67

Michael Bradley (Toronto): $6,500,000.00

Andrea Pirlo (NYCFC): $5,915,690.00

David Villa (NYCFC): $5,610,000.00

Gio Dos Santos (LA): $5,500,000.00

Bastian Schweinsteiger (Fire): $5,400,000.00

Jozy Altidore (Toronto): $4,875,000.00

Clint Dempsey (Seattle): $3,892,933.50

Diego Valeri (Portland): $2,607,500.00

Tim Howard (Colorado): $2,475,000.00

Miguel Almiron (Atlanta): $2,297,000.00

Maxi Moralez (NYCFC): $2,000,000.04

For more number nerdiness, Jonathan Tannenwald has some league-wide numbers and charts at Philly.com. He has the MLS average salary at $326,319.23 and the median salary at $135,002.

Fire rumored to be connected to former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas

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AP

Fire rumored to be connected to former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas

They don’t call it silly season in Europe for nothing.

The offseason rumors that pop up and, in some cases, happen make for good entertainment around the world of soccer. Sometimes those rumors are connected to MLS, whether or not the chances of them coming to fruition are high.

The latest example of this is Steven Goff of the Washington Post tweeting out a juicy rumor involving the Chicago Fire and former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Goff doesn’t sound very confident in it happening and there are plenty of reasons why, but there are also reasons why it could make sense. In this case, it makes sense for Casillas to be looking for a home to continue his career. When his contract at FC Porto expires at the end of this European season in June, he will be 37 years old.

It’s been two and a half years since he left Real Madrid, where he spent the rest of his career, and he’s not the elite goalkeeper he once was. If Casillas wants to keep playing he may not be able to stick at a Champions League club like Porto, and that’s where the MLS rumors come into play. It makes sense for Casillas to have interest in joining MLS.

On the Fire’s end, the team isn’t loaded at goalkeeper, although there are three keeprs under contract (Matt Lampson, Jorge Bava, Stefan Cleveland) with the possibility of a fourth (Richard Sanchez) also returning. The numbers logjam could be rectified without much problem if the Fire have a chance to snag Casillas.

His experience as a World Cup and Champions League winner (like Bastian Schweinsteiger), would be a nice addition to the team, regardless of age. Casillas was one of the best goalkeepers in the world and won Spain's La Liga five times and the Champions League three times in addition to winning the 2010 World Cup.

The question from the Fire’s perspective is if he could justify the high cost he would likely come with. Goalkeepers aren’t often highly paid players in MLS with the way the salary cap works. More flexibility has been added with more and more resources being given to teams from the league, but the cost of a player like Casillas may be difficult to justify at goalkeeper, even if he would provide another marketing and attendance boost like Schweinsteiger did.

This rumor makes for a good headline, but may not have much basis in reality. Still, there's a decent chance Casillas' name will continue to be connected with a move to MLS until he signs his next deal.

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

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USA TODAY

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

The MLS offseason doesn't take long to get in gear.

The Fire traded Arturo Alvarez earlier on Sunday, the same day which the list of protected players was to be announced ahead of Tuesday's expansion draft for Los Angeles FC.

LAFC will take five players in the expansion draft, which is set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A team can only lose one player. Each team can protect 11 players and homegrown players aren't eligible for selection. For the Fire that means Drew Conner and Djordje Mihailovic can't be taken.

The Fire protected David Accam, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof, Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic, Juninho, Matt Polster, Richard Sanchez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Solignac and Brandon Vincent.

While Sanchez and Schweinsteiger are out of contract, the Fire have said they are negotiating with both players. Protecting Juninho is a bit of a surprise because it implies that the Fire have some intention of keeping him for next year, or at least keeping his rights to be traded.

The Fire left David Arshakyan, Jorge Bava, Brandt Bronico, Stefan Cleveland, Jorge Corrales, Michael de Leeuw, Christian Dean, Daniel Johnson and Matt Lampson unprotected. De Leeuw would be a worthwhile pickup for LA if it thinks he is worth it after his ACL tear suffered late in the season.

With only five players being selected it's fairly likely no Fire players are taken by LAFC, but it's arguable that de Leeuw will end up being one of the best five players available. The 31-year-old tied for the team lead with eight assists and scored three goals.