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.

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

After failing to qualify to play in this summer’s World Cup, the United States’ pain was alleviated on Wednesday morning after earning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

But why is this bittersweet for Chicagoans?

Even though the World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada in eight years, matches will not be played in Chicago.

The city chose not to be one of the potential hosts of the world’s largest sporting event, despite using Soldier Field as a venue for the 1994 World Cup.

One of the reasons could be the low seating capacity of Chicago’s historic stadium. Soldier Field would be the second smallest spot out of any World Cup host option, seating only 61,500. The massive competition also draws enormous crowds, possibly causing logistical concerns for a highly-populated place like Chicago.

Ten out of 17 different cities in the United States will be gifted the opportunity to host 2026 World Cup games. The list includes Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) and Nashville (Nissan Stadium), which are the closest domestic locations to Chicago.

The bright side is that fans from the Midwest won’t have to travel very far to see a match. For bigtime soccer fans in the Chicago area, having the chance to attend world-class matches in United States could be exciting enough.

Out of the 80 games taking place in 2026, 60 of them will be located in the United States.

Can this bid with Mexico and Canada at least help the relevancy of U.S. Soccer in the Chicago area?

The U.S. men’s national team missed this year’s World Cup at a very unideal time, just when it seemed like the sport of soccer was gaining more and more popularity in the United States.

Plus, the United States might not even get an automatic bid to play in their own World Cup as hosts.

But becoming a member of the first trio in FIFA history to host the World Cup, coupled with the expanded 48-team field in 2026, could help the United States retain the fans they have across the nation and around Chicago.

The World Cup might not be coming to the Windy City, but Chicagoans will still have something to be excited about in 2026 with games being played right around the corner. If the U.S. can qualify for the upcoming World Cups, having the tournament in North America will be much sweeter.

Until then, the 2018 World Cup kicks off this Thursday night in Russia.

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?


Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.

OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet. 

From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.

Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.