Average MLS Salaries

The Major League Soccer (MLS) has come a long way since its inception in 1996. With the continuous influx of talented players and the growth of soccer in the United States, the league has become a significant force in soccer. As a result, the average MLS salary has considerably increased in recent years. This article will explore the average MLS salary, how it compares to other leagues, and the factors contributing to the rise in player wages. Additionally, we will look at the highest-paid players in the league and discuss the spending habits of various teams.

A Steady Increase in MLS Salaries

Average Salary Approaching $500,000

According to the MLS Players’ Association’s most recent salary update, the league’s average basic wage for a senior roster non-designated player is the 500,000 mark.

Comparing MLS Salaries to Other Leagues

While the average MLS salary has grown significantly over the years, it still falls short compared to other top leagues worldwide. For instance, the English Premier League boasts much higher wages, with even low-spenders like Sheffield United having over triple the payroll of top-spending MLS teams. However, the gap between MLS and other leagues like France’s Ligue 1 is not as wide, with the average Ligue 1 team spending around 14.06 million average for MLS teams.

Highest-Paid Players in MLS

The pay gap in the MLS is substantial, with top earners making significantly more than the league average. Here are the top five highest-paid players in the MLS:

  1. Lorenzo Insigne – $14,000,000 (Toronto FC)
  2. Xherdan Shaqiri – $8,150,000 (Chicago Fire FC)
  3. Javier Hernandez – $7,250,000 (LA Galaxy)
  4. Michael Bradley – $6,500,000 (Toronto FC)
  5. Gonzalo Higuain – $5,800,000 (Inter Miami CF)

These figures show that the top players in MLS can earn salaries comparable to some of the best players in European leagues.

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Foto de Tareq Ismail na Unsplash

Factors Contributing to the Increase in Average MLS Salary

Several factors have contributed to the rise in the average MLS salary over the years. These include league expansion, increased investment, and a focus on player development.

League Expansion

The expansion of the MLS has played a significant role in the increase in average salaries. With more teams joining the league, there is increased competition to attract top talent, leading to higher wages for players. As of the 2023 season, the MLS has 29 teams, with further expansion planned in the coming years.

Increased Investment

The growth of the MLS has attracted more investment from club owners, leading to higher spending on player salaries. As the league continues to grow in popularity and profitability, investment in player wages is expected to continue to rise.

Focus on Player Development

MLS teams have increasingly focused on developing young talent and providing a platform for players to continue their professional careers. This has led to an influx of talented players from around the world, driving up the average salary in the league.

Average MLS Salary by Team

When analyzing the average MLS salary, examining the differences between teams is essential. Some teams, such as Toronto FC, have significantly higher average wages than others, like Nashville SC. The table below provides a breakdown of the average player salary for all MLS teams:

Western Conference

TeamAverage Salary (Annual)
Houston Dynamo$757,700
Austin FC$619,700
LA Galaxy$581,250
St. Louis City SC$458,400
Portland Timbers$421,250
Columbus Crew$385,388
Sporting KC$369,250
Seattle Sounders FC$367,500
San Jose Earthquakes$288,050
Real Salt Lake$287,800
Minnesota United FC$238,560
Colorado Rapids$230,925
FC Dallas$225,750
Vancouver Whitecaps$187,300
Nashville SC$168,300

Eastern Conference

TeamAverage Salary (Annual)
Toronto FC$928,477
FC Cincinnati$685,600
Chicago Fire FC$573,800
Atlanta United$452,500
Los Angeles FC$387,250
New York City FC$384,500
New England Revolution$366,500
Orlando City SC$339,925
Charlotte FC$314,600
Philadelphia Union$261,200
New York Red Bulls$242,250
Inter Miami CF$240,000
Montreal Impact$230,250
DC United$219,400

As the table shows, there is a significant difference in the average salary between the highest and lowest-paying teams in the league.

MLS Salaries
Foto de Jose M na Unsplash

How MLS Salaries are Calculated

In the MLS, player salaries are divided into two numbers: Current Annualized Base Salary and Annualized Average Guaranteed Compensation. The Annual Average Guaranteed Compensation (Guaranteed Comp) number includes a player’s base salary and all signing and guaranteed bonuses annualized over the term of the player’s contract, including option years. This figure also includes any marketing bonuses and agent’s fees, both annualized over the contract’s term. However, it does not include Performance Bonuses, as there is no guarantee that a player will achieve those bonuses.

Top Earners and Their Impact on the League

While the average MLS salary has steadily increased, a significant portion of the league’s total wage bill is allocated to the top earners. Players like Lorenzo Insigne, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Javier Hernandez not only receive hefty salaries but also have a significant impact on their teams’ performance. Their presence in the league helps attract more talent and increases the overall competitiveness of the MLS.

Salary Distribution Across Teams

It’s essential to examine how teams distribute their salary budgets to understand the league dynamics better. Some teams like Chicago Fire FC have a top-heavy approach, with a significant percentage of their wage bill allocated to a few star players. On the other hand, teams like New York City FC and Philadelphia Union have a more balanced approach, with a more evenly distributed wage bill across their rosters.

The Impact of Salaries on Team Performance

While it’s evident that a higher average MLS salary can attract more talent, it doesn’t always guarantee success on the field. Teams like Inter Miami CF and Chicago Fire FC, who have some of the highest wage bills in the league, have struggled to find success in recent seasons. In contrast, teams like Montreal Impact and Philadelphia Union, with lower average salaries, have been successful in achieving good results.

The Future of MLS Salaries

As the MLS continues to grow in popularity and profitability, it’s expected that the average salary will continue to rise. The league’s expansion, increased investment, and focus on player development will all contribute to the growth of wages in the coming years. However, it remains to be seen whether the MLS can close the gap between its salaries and those of the top European leagues.


The average MLS salary has come a long way since the league’s inception, with many factors contributing to its steady increase. As the league continues to grow and attract more talent, it’s likely that average salaries will continue to rise. However, it’s essential for teams to find the right balance between spending on star players and building a well-rounded roster to ensure success on the field.

Categories: Soccer Facts



As a soccer coach and graduate in Physical Education, I bring a wealth of expertise to the field. My coaching philosophy combines technical precision with a passion for player well-being. With a commitment to fostering both skill and sportsmanship, I aim to empower athletes, nurturing their growth not only as players but as individuals on the journey to success.


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