MLS Players Union salary numbers provide glimpse into Fire's roster

MLS Players Union salary numbers provide glimpse into Fire's roster

Twice a year the MLS Players Union releases salary information for every player under contract. For hardcore MLS fans, these two days are like mini-Christmases.

Today was one of those days.

The salary information gives a glimpse into how teams are put together under the league's salary cap restrictions. The numbers are far from perfect, with performance bonuses not included, but do provide a general idea of how players compare to each other in terms of pay.

For starters, there's the broad league-wide numbers:

There are 23 players in MLS making over $1 million, according to the MLSPU, and 13 of them are forwards. The Chicago Fire have one player on this list: Gilberto ($1,145,000).

These numbers can show how certain teams operate. For example, New York City FC has three of the top seven earners in the league. Meanwhile, city namesake New York Red Bulls are one of five teams in the league without a player making more than $1 million this season.

The Fire come in at 17th in total payroll, at least in terms of guaranteed compensation according to the MLSPU numbers, at just over $5.6 million.

That comes with a very big asterisk because that does not include Michael de Leeuw, whose contract is not yet included. The Fire announced they used Targeted Allocation Money to help buy down de Leeuw's contract and former FC Groningen teammate Johan Kappelhof is listed at $520,000 so it's probably safe to say de Leeuw is coming in over $400,000, and possibly significantly over that number. Throw in an extra $400,000 onto the Fire's payroll and they jump five spots to 12th.

Below is the listed Fire guaranteed compensation.

Speaking of Kappelhof, the Dutch center back is the eighth highest paid defender in the league. Gilberto is the 11th highest paid forward, followed by Kennedy Igboananike (14th) and David Accam (16th).

Sean Johnson comes in at No. 7 in the goalkeeper rankings, which include Tim Howard before he debuts for Colorado in July. Johnson made his first appearance of the season in Wednesday's loss at the New York Red Bulls. Matt Lampson, who started each match before Wednesday, makes less than a third of what Johnson does.

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason


Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away


Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

It may be a good thing that the Fire’s originally scheduled season opener March 3 at Colorado got moved back.

The Fire’s preseason has been riddled with injuries to key players and the extra week may end up being needed to get the team ready for the season. Four players (not counting the already known long-term injuries to Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic) sat out Saturday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast University due to injury: Daniel Johnson (a right ankle injury suffered in a game against Philadelphia on Feb. 8), Grant Lillard (left knee), Matt Polster (left knee) and Luis Solignac (left hip).

Polster’s injury is especially notable because he has had recurring left knee problems since first suffering a sprain in the 2016 season finale at Toronto. Polster missed the first nine games of 2017 due to the injury and missed three more in August due to a related injury.

The 24-year-old, who is now the longest tenured player on the team and the only player remaining from before general manager Nelson Rodriguez’s tenure began at the end of the 2015 season, arrived with the Fire after playing with the U.S. national team in January. He played all 90 minutes on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bastian Schweinsteiger still hasn’t played in the preseason and the team hasn’t listed him as injured.

All the absences, combined with rest for some of the team’s regulars, resulted in a starting lineup against Florida Gulf Coast that featured two players who have appeared in an official match with the Fire. Three trialists and four draft picks started.

Four of the Fire’s seven scheduled preseason matches are in the books. The Fire lost 2-1 to Montreal on Feb. 14. One of the bright spots was a rare set piece goal after the Fire trailed the Impact 2-0. Dax McCarty headed in a free kick from Diego Campos. Campos has been dangerous on set pieces, hitting the post with a free kick and assisting a goal from a corner kick in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Florida Gulf Coast.

Next up is a match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Feb. 21. Next Saturday the Fire play at Orlando to finish up play in Florida.

The Fire close out the preseason March 3 against the team’s USL affiliate, Tulsa, at Toyota Park before the season opener on March 10.