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Caps sport second lowest payroll in MLS

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The Caps look ... cheap in the latest round of player salary numbers

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS Players Association did the first of their annual player salary data dumps Wednesday, meaning fans get a rare glimpse behind the league’s financial curtain.

The Caps have the second lowest payroll in the league at a touch over $8 million, beating out only Houston Dynamo. The Caps’ payroll is only about $100,000 less than it was last year, however, yet four teams passed them in the rankings, illustrating how merely treading water in modern MLS will likely get you left behind.

I pasted the full list of individual player salaries at the bottom of the story but first a few notes and a smattering of comments.

Fredy Montero is the club’s highest earner, making $968,000 in guaranteed compensation. The Caps are the only team in the league (as best I can tell) which does not have a player making a million dollars or more. Houston, incidentally, has two players (Kiki Struna and Mauro Manotas) which meet that description. Montero is followed by Jon Erice, Yordy Reyna In-Beom Hwang and Lucas Venuto.

A few players make less than I initially would have guessed, Ali Adnan chief among them. While I would imagine a permanent deal would increase his salary significantly, Adnan makes about $550,000, less than players he has objectively outplayed this season.

Also of note (to me, anyway) are Donneil Henry’s $204,000 salary and Max Crepeau’s $94,000 pay. Both have been among the team’s strongest players this season but do not make salaries consummate with that fact. In fact they both make less than Anthony Blondell, who is out on loan.

Finally, the club has two players in Brendan McDonough and David Norman, who make at or near the league’s salary minimum. This is actually fewer than in past years, despite the fact that the club seems to be carrying more homegrown players (who generally on cheaper deals).

Now, Whitecaps Twitter has been (rightfully) pointing to these stats as to the stinginess of the organization, especially following the record transfer fee earned by the sale of Alphonso Davies. What is interesting, however, is the Caps fare quite well in points earned per dollar spent, placing ninth in the league table (Philadelphia and Houston are the top clubs in that alternative table, for what it’s worth).

This actually underscores the point made by club staff that they actually punch above their weight in terms of money spent, even though the team has been mediocre at best since joining MLS.

Club ownership has made vague platitudes that this will change. Barring a spectacular summer transfer window, however, it appears those shifts will not happen this season. In some sense, I’m OK with that. As I said on Twitter, we should not be paying Lucas Venuto over a million dollars a season just to have a player making that level of salary on the team. The club obviously should not be inflating its spending on players which have only managed to claw the team to the precipice of the playoff bubble.

Being cheap can work in MLS. New York Red Bulls again has one of the lowest wage bills in the league but are, year after year, competitive. Another point I made on Twitter is that if you’re cheap, yet succeed, you are lauded for your Moneyball-type genius and pointed to as a model for success. MLS is a salary-cap league; spending less in one place gives you more resources to spend elsewhere. If Vancouver was able to either scout players who found a $250,000 salary acceptable or do as NYRB do and have a near-continuous stream of cheap HG players coming up through the ranks, the team’s wage spending would be irrelevant.

The problem, however, is that the Caps have done neither of those things. And this is where you just look cheap as a club, even though the coaches (Carl Robinson included) have actually produced better results than they would have any right to given the team’s wage spending.

All hope is not lost, however. The summer transfer window is approaching us and I do buy the argument that it is not the most prudent idea to spend all your money in one place. The problem is the Caps have little demonstrated track record of scouting and identifying playors who are worthy of the type of salary paid out by other clubs. Until they do, I actually have no problem with the state of the payroll—the caliber of players the club has pursued do not merit more money.

Anyway, here are the team’s salaries. The number on the left is base salary; the number on the right is guaranteed compensation. All salaries are current as of June 1 and if you want to snoop on the Caps’ competitors, you can find the complete salary database here

Adnan,Ali,D,”$539,000 “,”$547,333 “

Ardaiz,Joaquin,F,”$272,727 “,”$272,727 “

Bair,Thelonius,F,”$56,250 “,”$76,250 “

Baldisimo,Michael,D-M,”$56,250 “,”$83,013 “

Bangoura,Alhassane,M-F,”$100,000 “,”$100,000 “

Blondell,Anthony,F,”$262,500 “,”$307,703 “

Colyn,Simon,M-F,”$56,250 “,”$81,250 “

Cornelius,Derek,D,”$100,000 “,”$111,912 “

Crepeau,Maxime,GK,”$90,000 “,”$94,083 “

Dominguez,Jon Erice,M,”$654,546 “,”$752,364 “

Giro,”Victor “”PC”””,D-M,”$105,000 “,”$112,438 “

Godoy,Erik,D,”$381,818 “,”$449,318 “

Hasal,Thomas,GK,”$56,250 “,”$66,250 “

Henry,Doneil,D,”$190,008 “,”$204,242 “

In-Beom,Hwang,M,”$600,000 “,”$655,000 “

Khmiri,Jasser,D,”$180,000 “,”$180,000 “

Levis,Brett,D-M,”$71,663 “,”$74,163 “

MacMath,Zac,GK,”$190,000 “,”$190,000 “

Martins,Felipe,M,”$500,000 “,”$500,000 “

McDonough,Brendan,D,”$56,250 “,”$56,250 “

Melvin,Sean,GK,”$70,250 “,”$70,250 “

Montero,Fredy,F,”$768,000 “,”$968,000 “

Nerwinski,Jake,D,”$120,000 “,”$124,125 “

Norman,David,M,”$57,225 “,”$58,225 “

Reyna,Yordy,F-M,”$650,000 “,”$713,140 “

Rose,Andy,M,”$192,500 “,”$192,500 “

Sutter,Scott,D,”$155,000 “,”$170,177 “

Teibert,Russell,D-M,”$170,000 “,”$190,000 “

Venuto,Lucas,M-F,”$550,000 “,”$600,000 “