Average First Team Salaries in Major League Soccer

Published on November 29th, 2018
Written By: Ariel Noel

The report on salaries in the MLS - Season 2018 - Illustration. The Major League Soccer, which played its first season in 1996, is rapidly growing in quality, popularity and also salary payouts, which are the focus of this article. While still a world apart compared to other major sports leagues from around the world, the MLS is making progress. The players earnings are on the rise.

The MLS is the 13th highest paying sports league in the world at the moment. The average first team player annual salary in the 2018 season is $375,257, while the median salary is $154,619. The median salary means that half of the players earn below this wage level and half above. The first on the list of highest paying leagues is the NBA, where the average basic salary is $7.8m per first team player. The English Premier League is the highest paying football league, with the average annual salary of $3.95m.

The highest paid MLS players play for Toronto FC, where the average annual salary is $915,835. This is high in comparison to other MLS teams and comparable to salaries paid by mediocre European football clubs such as Getafe (La Liga), Genoa (Serie A), Bordeaux (Ligue 1) and Mainz (Bundesliga). Toronto FC is the 214th highest wage-paying club in sports. The first one is Barcelona FC, the home of Lionel Messi, where the average annual salary is around $13.76m. The lowest paying MLS club this year is Houston Dynamo, where players average $196k.


Here is a full list of average annual salaries for the 23 clubs participating in Major League Soccer, courtesy of sportingintelligence.com.

1 Toronto FC - $915,835
2 LA Galaxy - $648,408
3 Chicago Fire - $554,697
4 New York City FC - $511,186
5 LAFC - $487,384
6 Seattle Sounders - $436,209
7 Montreal Impact - $407,808
8 Sporting Kansas City - $398,422
9 Atlanta United - $362,698
10 Portland Timbers - $354,671
11 DC United - $346,055
12 Colorado Rapids - $335,916
13 Philadelphia Union - $307,399
14 Orlando City - $295,797
15 San Jose Earthquakes - $276,945
16 New England Revolution - $276,728
17 Minnesota United - $275,552
18 FC Dallas - $274,546
19 Columbus Crew - $266,067
20 Real Salt Lake - $262,336
21 Vancouver Whitecaps - $261,541
22 New York Red Bulls - $260,161
23 Houston Dynamo - $196,552


Toronto FC, being the highest salary-paying club, won the MLS Cup in 2017, but in 2018 the club finished near the bottom of the table.

Two international superstars, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney, arrived to the league in 2018 and proved to be valuable investments, as both players helped raise the MLS game to a higher standard. Another star player, the Spanish striker David Villa, recently announced that this was his last year playing for New York City FC, after 4 memorable seasons with the club.

With the 2018 MLS season in its finishing stages, many clubs are reshuffling their rosters. It will be interesting to see if the league gets any new stars come January transfer window.


The average and median MLS salaries in the previous two seasons were:


Average Salary - $327,249
Median Salary - $135,252


Average Salary - $313,438
Median Salary - - $116,523

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