The good news for Major League Soccer is that attendance is up and the sport seems to be resonating well with a small local and dedicated fanbase. And while that may guarantee the survival of the sport in the United States, if MLS ever wants to thrive, now may be a good time to start spending money on young stars.
The average salary in MLS is up 12 per cent this season. Then again, 12 per cent of nothing is still not very much as the average salary is still just $154 thousand.
The league did add two stars in Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez. But both players are in their 30s and on the downside of their careers. And the league’s highest-paid player, David Beckham ($6.5 million), is 36 and has only scored 11 goals in five seasons with MLS.
Meanwhile, one of the most recognisable American soccer players, Clint Dempsey, is thriving in the English Premier League making about $2.2 million with Fulham.
Looking at each team’s payroll (below) shows that most teams have entire payrolls less than twice what Dempsey makes, and that the league is unwilling to keep or acquire young scorers like Dempsey that might actually resonate with the casual sports fan.
And while attendance is up, retreads like Henry and Marquez are not going to help during television contract negotiations. And the TV money won’t grow until the casual sports fan starts paying attention.
Data via NYTimes.com