Estimating a Major League Soccer team's salary cap number in February is a very tricky science. Impossible, really. But MASSIVE REPORT specializes in impossible.
Rosters are very fluid and all contracts are handled on corporate time by the league offices in NY. What is below will simply be best guess based on salary and player data the MLS Player's Union posts annually a couple times a year (April and October).
Until that annual posting this type posting will be in conversational form.
With that. High Level Summary time. Here is how the Crew is probably spending money by position, to cap number.
$610k : Defense
$750k : Forwards / Attacking
$850k : Midfield
$2.95 million is the 2013 cap (reportedly, not confirmed), this means the Crew have an estimated 600k-like in open cap space. That’s a large number for this time of year.
As of this writing the Crew have 25 players on the payroll (which includes both Dilly Duka and Aaron Horton) but only 20 of them will count towards the salary cap, per MLS roster rules. Let’s break it down the best we can.
NOWT TO CAP <$47K
If you look up and down rosters in MLS you’ll note that most players making less than 47k a year do not count against the cap.
2012 newly signed players like Kevan George, Aaron Schoenfeld, and Matt Lampson will likely not hit the cap this year. New signees like Chad Barson and (probable signing) Drew Beckie will also fall outside of the cap number as well.
Because the Crew roster is still well short of the 28-30 they are likely working towards, we have some ‘inbetweeners’. Or, guys that who hit the cap now but might not later if more are signed. These are the players right around the 50k earners. Eric Gehrig and Bernardo Anor fall into this category.
IN THE EIGHTEENTH >$50K-80K
Now, on to the fringe top 18 guys. Here you will find young talent and average journeymen. Generally, it’s the 50k to 90k guys. Ben Speas, Ethan Finlay, William Trapp, Ryan Finley, Aaron Horton, Justin Meram and Tyson Wahl fall into this group.
YOUR 2013 STARTERS >$80K
The way MLS works is that they funnel starters up past 80 grand a year. Doesn’t mean you are a starter, just means you should be according to whatever and whomever decides this stuff in NY. For the Crew that list looks like this:
And, above is your your probable 2013 starting lineup - as it stands.
Club followers will note the inclusion of Dilly Duka and the exclusion of rumored signing Matías Ariel Sánchez. There is plenty of room for both but keeping Matias off for now.
It is very likely the Crew have tons of cap space. A luxury few other teams have this close to the season. Looking over the list of trialists this year it’s hard find any that fall into the $100k starter category other than Sercan Guvenisik. Even if the club adds him they still have nearly a half million dollars hanging out there.
Matias Sanchez likely gobbles up half of that (250k), but the club still has money to burn.
Is it possible the Crew signed Viana and Glauber to contracts much higher than 100-150k? Sigh, probably. It’s also possible that Gehrig, Anor and Josh Williams (of whom I'm estimating a large increase) got significant pay increases above what the estimates below.
Below!; My estimates on salaries to cap, to date (in USD of course). In bold are ‘best guess’.
2013 SALARY : NAME : POSITION
324,000 : Federico Higuain : Forward / Attacking
310,000 : Chad Marshall : Defense
225,375 : Jairo Arrieta : Forward / Attacking
190,000 : Eddie Gaven : Midfield
120,000 : Agustín Viana : Midfield
110,000 : Dilaver Duka : Midfield
110,000 : Glauber : Defense
100,000 : Danny O'Rourke : Midfield
100,000 : Tony Tchani : Midfield
78,667 : Andy Gruenebaum : Goalkeeper
75,000 : Tyson Wahl : Defense
70,575 : Justin Meram : Forward / Attacking
70,560 : Josh Williams : Defense
70,500 : Aaron Horton : Forward / Attacking
65,000 : Ryan Finley : Forward / Attacking
60,000 : William Trapp : Midfield
59,000 : Ethan Finlay : Midfield
58,000 : Ben Speas : Midfield
47,187 : Bernardo Anor : Midfield
47,080 : Eric Gehrig : Defense
47,080 : Matt Lampson : Goalkeeper
44,000 : Aaron Schoenfeld : Forward / Attacking
44,000 : Chad Barson : Defense
44,000 : Drew Beckie : Defense
44,000 : Kevan George : Midfield
It is entirely possible, as mentioned, that Glauber and Viana are making double my estimate. Perhaps it is wishful thinking that nothing more then $150k is being paid to them in wages to cap? We will see in April, MLS is notoriously cagey with salaries this time of year.
Regardless of their exact number, it’s pretty clear the Crew are sitting atop plenty of cap room. That’s a good thing but also a curious one given the fact the season is so close.