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May 26, 2016
It's not the dollars - it's what you do with them

By Brian Trusdell
Soccer News Net Contributor

Not always getting what you pay for
Former MLSer/U.S. national teamer and now TV analyst Brian Dunseth last week tweeted out that Thursday – the day that the MLS Players' Union issued its semi-annual release of player salary data – was the day calls were made to agents with screams the equivalent of “That guy is making that?!”

Probably fewer discussions are being had between general managers and coaches that wondered how teams with significantly higher payrolls – or at least rosters that include several notable high-salaried players – are doing worse than those with considerably more modest paydays.

Colorado, which leads the league with an 8-2-3 record, has only three players in the $1 million-plus base-salary range – one of which, Tim Howard ($2.1 million), hasn't even shown up yet. Shkelzen Gashi ($1.575 million) and Kevin Doyle ($1.075 million) are the others, but only two more on the Rapids' roster are above $270,000.

Likewise, Philly, which is leading the Eastern Conference, has nobody making anywhere near $1 million. Maurice Edu, who's missed the whole season so far with a fractured left leg, tops the Union's salary list at $725,000 and Tranquillo Barnetta is next with $75,000 less. Nobody else is above $430,000.

That compares with the LA Galaxy who have six guys making $425,000 or higher (led by Steven Gerrard, Giovani dos Santos and Robbie Keane in the $2.5 million and higher range) and NYC FC, which has its three uber stars (David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard) all making $5.6 million or more.

That's probably even more delicious to the fans of the Red Bulls, whose biggest earner is Bradley Wright-Phillips at $650,000 and yet matched the record for biggest margin of victory last Saturday with its 7-0 victory over NYC.

It's interesting to note that in 2007, the first year the MLS Players' Union published salary information, only four players in all of MLS made seven figures: Juan Pablo Angel ($1.5 million), David Beckham ($5.5 million), Cuauhtemoc Blanco ($2.492 million) and Claudio Reyna ($1 million).

Measuring the value of rivalries
Last week's “Heineken Rivalry Week” certainly boosted MLS' attendance numbers. Of the 10 games between Friday and Sunday, teams attracted a total of 264,347, or an average of 26,345. That's 27 percent higher than the 20,850 MLS was averaging going into last weekend.

Of course, four of those games were played at six of the NFL/CFL/MLB stadia that MLS uses: Gillette (New England), Yankee (NYC), Camping World/Citrus Bowl (Orlando) and Century Link (Seattle), which particularly helped pad the numbers.

But even New England, which had been averaging 16,538, drew a crowd of 23,472 for its 4-2 loss to Dallas, a 42 percent jump. Some rivalries are diminished by bad play. The Fire and Dynamo, the two teams with the worst records in the league, drew the week-low 15,363 for their game at Toyota Park in Chicago (Bridgeview). The only other sub-20,000 crowd was the 17,364 for D.C.-Union in Philly.

This is the second year and third time MLS has hyped its “Rivalry Week”. Another “Rivalry Week” is scheduled for Aug. 24-28, when Orlando will play at home twice, but RFK Stadium in Washington will be the only other non-soccer-specific venue in use.

Shaken up in San Jose
With the international call ups for the Copa America, Euros and even the Oceania Nations Cup in, it's clear which teams will be affected most.

San Jose will lose up to five players for at least some time, as many as four possibly for the next month. The departure of Kip Colvey, who has played in four games, to New Zealand for the Oceania Nations Cup will be the least missed of the Quakes' departures. But the absences of Chris Wondolowski, Anibal Godoy, Alberto Quintero and Simon Dawkins will remove the spine of San Jose for as many as four games.

Colorado will be without four – although really only three since Tim Howard has yet to hang up his jacket in Dick Sporting Goods Park.

Several teams will lose three: Dallas, KC, LA, Montreal and Vancouver. Every team except Orlando and Chicago will lose at least one player.

The U.S. national team naturally takes the lion's share with 12 of the 39 players called. But Jamaica is calling in six from as many different teams and Costa Rica is taking five from four different teams.

Back in familiar territory
It took eight games for Bradley Wright-Phillips to score a goal this season, including having a penalty blocked in a 2-0 loss against Kansas City.

He has scored five since to climb within sight of the league leaders, including a pair on Saturday – along with an assist on a third – to help the New York Red Bulls to a dominating 7-0 victory over NYC FC at Yankee Stadium and earn himself Player of the Week honors.

Wright-Phillips was selected POTW three times last season and has claimed the honor six times overall, still 13 behind Landon Donovan, who retired as the league's all-time leader.

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