No Revolution Here, You Still Get What You Pay For

A quick peek at the comments on the official Revolution Facebook page, the Revolution blog or (if you can handle it) Big Soccer, and it’s clear that there’s a significant amount of (negative) energy floating around the New England Revolution right now.

Since I already lobbed my questions toward Mr. Bilello (here and on the Revs Blog), and Mr. Burns (here and on the Revs blog) I decided to let my thoughts settle for a bit around the “damage control” Questions/Answers sessions the front office had offered, and how they went so very wrong.

Instead, I decided to follow up on my last post about how Real Salt Lake so easily out-manned the Revolution.  Basically, I suggested that RSL was a superior roster in all positions.

Admittedly, for someone, who despite the blog-based critiques and criticisms, still considers himself a Revolution fan, that’s some tough love to dish out.   It made me wonder WHY our players didn’t seem up to the task.

So I did a bit of playing around with MLS Salary information, and found some interesting bits of information.   Of course, if you feel there is no truth whatsoever to the old adage of “you get what you pay for” than stop reading right now.

Now, as I always do, I’ll caveat some of this… First, I don’t know deep details of how contracts are structured, and second, I’ll admit I completely made up a salary of $50K for Jason Griffiths based on what other rookies are making, plus a boost for him being an international.

I’ll also admit that some of New England’s most expensive players were not available – players like Taylor Twellman, Edgaras Jankauskas, Steve Ralston.  I admit this under duress, since many of New England’s most expensive players are almost never available, which I would think would factor into their contracts, re-signings, etc.  (But that’s open to debate…)

I looked at the players that were the starting eleven for Real Salt Lake and the New England Revolution, took my view of like/like positional comparisons from the last blog and compared salaries.   Here’s what it looked like.

RSL Revs Diff
Nick Rimando vs.  Matt Reis 131000 182011 -51011
Robbie Russell vs.  Kevin Alston 119751 124000 -4249
Jamison Olave vs.  Cory Gibbs 240000 128142 111858
Nate Borchers  vs.  Emmanuel Osei 147500 52875 94625
Chris Wingert  vs.   Seth Sinovic 125000 40000 85000
Andy Williams   vs.   Sainey Nyassi 88200 76750 11450
Ned Grabavoy  vs.  Jason Griffiths 105000 50000 55000
Javier Morales   vs.  Shalrie Joseph 252500 475000 -222500
Will Johnson  vs.  Chris Tierney 89891 40000 49891
Alvaro Saborio  vs.  Marko Perovic 128125 190000 -61875
Fabian Espindola  vs.  Zach Schilawski 75000 42500 32500
Total 1501967 1401278 100689
w/o most expensive on each team 1249467 926278 323189

Within this, there are some interesting findings…

To my surprise, when comparing overall roster expense, the RSL team was only paid about $100K more.  However, taking out each team’s most expensive players made the RSL roster over $320K more highly compensated.  Shalrie Joseph’s team-leading salary really adds up when he doesn’t take over a game – something he’s capable of, but hasn’t been able to do recently.

It’s already been asked on this blog – and through the Revolution blog – why Shalrie isn’t a Designated Player if none are about to be announced.  This should theoretically lower that salary burden on the roster, if not for the ownership, and free space up for new signings.

But outside of Shalrie’s salary, things actually get even stranger.

Number of starting players that earned over $100K.  RSL: Eight.  The Revolution?  Five.

The lowest paid player included in Real Salt Lake’s starting lineup?  Fabian Espindola, with a salary of $75K.

The Revolution had FIVE players making less – some significantly less – than that number, and one more that just barely topped it at $76.5K.

If we call Sainey Nyassi’s $76.5K more or less equivalent to Espindola’s $75K, that means more than half of the Revolution starting lineup made less than or (practically) equal to RSL’s least expensive player.

Real Salt Lake had seven players on the field that were higher paid than their Revolution counterparts, and in only one of those seven was the difference less than $12K.

The four Revs who were paid more than their counterparts?

  • Kevin Alston – has a good future, but on this night wasn’t as good as Robbie Russell
  • Matt Reis – well, maybe not all his fault, but when five go in…
  • Shalrie Joseph – one of the best midfielders in MLS, but didn’t look $220K+ better than Javier Morales on this night
  • Marko Perovic – a player that I have high hopes for, but who frankly seems to have lost faith in his (largely rookie) teammates and gets caught in possession too frequently when trying to do too much.

After the Revolution let in five goals, you might want to know that the RSL central defensive paring (Olave and Borchers) salary is more than double that of their Revolution counterparts (Gibbs and Osei.)

More curious is that in at least four cases (given my assumption on Griffith’s salary), the difference in salary between the RSL player and Revolution player of the same position was actually larger than the Revolution player’s entire salary.

For a team that has been lauded for its balance in recent years, and has even been used as a rationale against Designated Players due to its successful – if not beautiful – soccer, one must wonder if this team really does offer that balance at all.   Related to a balanced roster, they’ve clearly been one-upped by RSL.

Might the success of drafting future All Stars Clint Dempsey and Michael Parkhurst have clouded the Revolution vision of what success might look like in MLS?  It’s hard to say for sure.

What we can say is this… the “you get what you paid for” adage was created based on some element of general truth.    And the Revs haven’t paid for a winning team.

So as the supporters across the web spew insults, theories and accusations, the Revolution front office should know that sending a vastly inexperienced and under-skilled team out to compete is fine.

Just don’t be surprised by the results on the field or in the stands.

Your fans no longer are.


3 thoughts on “No Revolution Here, You Still Get What You Pay For

  1. During the World Cup, I thought heard that somebody paid
    4 million for Clint Dempsey to leave the Revolution.
    Who gets that money and where does it go?

    • I’ll need to double check, and reply more thoroughly later…. but generally speaking the league is the actual “owner” of a player contract, and the money typically goes primarily back to MLS. I know the rules have changed such that teams get a bit larger percentage of the transfer fee back to use lately. That change happened post-Dempsey’s move I believe. I’ll follow up.

  2. Dempsey was actually the player the rules were changed for, at least the first time (there’s been a bit of a revision since then). He was the first signing where the club kept 2/3rds of the cash. Now as far as what you can use on the cap, it’s only a 500k allocation (since revised, I think it’s 615k or something now).

    As a sense of perspective, a 500k allocation would be about enough to boost the salary of one player from a fairly normal starting wage of 100k a year to the somewhat more ‘premium’ figure of 267k for three years. A 615k allocation would basically be enough to replace one average starter with a non-DP-max player for the same amount of time.

    As for taking Shalrie Joseph to DP status with the new rules, it would make sense (though it would cost the Revs a little out of the pocketbook to buy the cap space), but since there’s a new party to the agreement (before it was technically just between Shalrie and the league, now the Revs would have to be involved too), it would probably mean a new contract negotiation. Perhaps such a thing is in progress behind the scenes, perhaps not.

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