The MLS has been a growing league for years. It is working hard to stay competitive with top European leagues and other American sports leagues. We are now seeing this in regard to the fact that teams are paying huge amounts of money to some of the big names currently starring in the MLS.
For the 2022 season, the MLS minimum salary is $65,500, and the average salary for non-designated players is $438,728, representing an increase of $40,975 (10.3%) over the previous season. However, this doesn’t make the cut compared to what top European stars receive. It is worth noting that most players on the list earn more than the average salary for the U.S. men’s team.
In the past, high-profile European players like David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic had made headlines when they made the transition from European leagues to the MLS. Beckham earned $6.5 million, while Ibrahimovic was paid $7 million.
Favourites for Winning the League
The MLS season has reached its halfway point, but we’re already looking ahead to possible winners. Currently, the odds for the outright winner favour New York City FC, which sits at +450. The Eastern team is favoured to win the title, but Los Angeles FC is a close second at +500. The race for the championship seems to be between these two teams and that is no real surprise given their respective league positions. Los Angeles FC is currently in first place in the Western Conference with 29 points, while New York City FC leads the Eastern Conference with 26 points.
The Philadelphia Union have the third-best odds of winning this year’s MLS championship. Last year, they reached the conference final. Other teams with a chance of winning the MLS Cup include the Seattle Sounders at +1000, followed by the LA Galaxy team at +1400.
These odds, which have been taken from a quality online sportsbook in the US, however something rather interesting that you may notice in regard to the teams mentioned, is that none of them features the highest-paid players in the MLS as of right now, except for the LA Galaxy.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at who the top 3 highest-paid MLS players are in the current campaign.
Xherdan Shaqiri – Chicago Fire FC
Shaqiri has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, including Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, and Liverpool. He helped Liverpool win the UEFA Champions League in his first season on the team. He won the UEFA Super Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup, and was part of the Liverpool team that won the Premier League in 2020—the Reds’ first league title in 30 years.
This is perhaps why the Switzerland winger has become the highest-paid player in the MLS. Shaqiri has a guaranteed compensation of $8.15 million. He makes roughly $7,350,000 in base salary. Last February, he signed a Designated Player contract to join Chicago. So far, Shaqiri has scored three goals in the MLS this season, playing 13 matches.
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández – LA Galaxy
Javier “Chicharito” Hernández previously played for Manchester United, becoming the club’s first Mexican player. During his five years with the club, he became a fan favourite with over 150 appearances and 59 goals.
In 2020, Hernández signed a three-year contract to play for LA Galaxy. The Mexican forward who plays as a forward for LA Galaxy is the second-highest-paid player on the list with an annual salary of $6 million. The Mexican striker has scored six goals in 16 matches for LA Galaxy in the MLS.
Gonzalo Higuaín – Inter Miami CF
Forward Gonzalo Higuaín of Inter Miami is one of the most prominent players in Major League Soccer, having played for clubs including Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Napoli and Juventus. He is the third-highest paid soccer player in the MLS, making $5.79 million. He has started in five matches, while also making an additional six as a substitute. He has only been able to find the back of the net on two occasions, though, for Phil Neville’s side.
More than ever, teams are willing to pay top dollar to bring on big-name players who will put fans in seats and win championships. The MLS has come a long way since its inception and is a great product that every fan should watch.
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