Puzzling out DC United Salary cap and 2013 Roster issues

Al Messerschmidt

Salary cap estimates are a tricky business. They've taken a stab at Sporting KC's #s over on their SB Nation site, but I think they've neglected to increase the cap over the 2012 figure of $2.81 million. It should go up to $2,950,500 this year.

Then, there's the inescapable fact that all we have to go on are players' 2012 salaries. I think it's reasonable to build in a 5% increase, though some may increase closer to 10%, and others may have a really sweet new deal. Pontius and Jakovic signed new contracts. What kind of raises did they get? We can only guess. Finally, there's wild cards, such as free agent signing like John Thorrington.

The biggest hurdle in projecting how much money a team has available is the allocation number, which MLS never releases. DC United should have had the lowest allocation number in MLS for 2013, based on having the 3rd best record, but not qualifying for either MLS Cup, or the CONCACAF Champions League. However, they sold Andy Najar's contract. That brought in a huge allocation number -- a juicy $650,000 to play with -- and I hope to high heaven that they don't leave any of that sitting on the table at season's end.

So, without further ado:

Roster slots 1-18* for salary cap calculation

Nick DeLeon -- $79k, up to $83k?; Dwayne De Rosario -- a $350,000 DP salary cap hit; Andrew Dykstra -- $44k, up to $46,500; Bill Hamid, $85k, up to $93k?; Dejan Jakovic, a $228k hit, and I'm guessing in the range of $260k, (just a tick over BMac's last year, though he probably should be even with BMac now); Perry Kitchen -- $171k, up to 180k; Chris Korb, 44k, up to $46,500 (the most underpaid player in MLS, based on talent -- this guy better get his passport ready for after the 2014 cycle, because he will deserve a national team look); Brandon McDonald - $258k, up to $271k; Lewis Neal -- $47k, up to $50k; Lionard Pajoy -- $195k, up to $205k (this makes me retch); Rafael -- a $200k Young DP cap hit; Chris Pontius - from $166k to...??? -- I'm gonna guess he's getting as much as BMac, so I'll peg Pontius at $275k; Robbie Russell -- $110k -- I can't believe his deal would have involved an escalation, but I'll be kind and put him at $115k; Marcelo Saragosa, from $74k to $78k; John Thorrington -- there's the rub -- from $170k to....Wolff's free agent deal gave him $170k, so I'll peg Thorrington at $150k; Casey Townsend -- $79k to $83k; Joe Willis from 44k to $46,500; and Daniel Woolard, from $56k to $59k.

It's possible that Raphael Augusto is on the salary budget roster, but I'm guessing he's not. His $44k last year, could be any number this year, but I'm guessing he's off budget.

With a rough number of just a tick over $2,590,000, I'm guessing United has...wait for it...ding, ding, ding....

....$360,000 in pure cap room left. That's equal to a DP salary and change. Let's say they bring on Porter -- they can keep him off-budget., but he eats up the last international slot. If they sign Richter, they might to add his $44k minimum to the budget -- meaning they'd have to use some allocation money to bring in a DP. Good think they have gobs of it. The $650,000 from the Najar deal, plus whatever their base allocation was. Of course, my salary assumptions, especially with respect to Thorrington, Pontius and Jakovic might be too generous -- but I'm going off what I think were the too generous precedents with the deals offered Joseph Ngwenya and MacDonald. The team might have more than $400,000 in salary cap they have all that allocation to play with.

What can they do with that allocation money?

  • To sign players new to MLS (that is, a player who did not play in MLS during the previous season).
  • To re-sign an existing MLS player, subject to League approval.
  • To "buy-down" a player’s salary budget charge below the League maximum of $350,000.

So, that money could be used for a nice juicy, international -- either to get below the $350k DP charge, or just because he's new.

There is one other use of allocation worth mentioning:

  • In connection with the exercise of an option to purchase a player’s rights or the extension of a player’s contract for the second year provided the player was new to MLS in the immediately prior year.

That might be useful with respect to Rafael or Augusto's deals...or not.

Also -- and this is probably what should happen -- at least some of that allocation money will be dealt to bring DC United an additional international player roster slot...which they would need to bring in Porter and a DP...or a good Honduran now, and a Euro DP in the summer (with only a $175k cap hit).

* I'm presuming that United will try to keep the roster at 28 players and 18 on-budget (salary cap) players, as they did last year. They could expand the budget roster to 19 or 20 players, if they want to add more than 3 more players to the overall roster. I'm assuming that Rozeboom, Augusto, Alam, Shanosky White, Seaton, and Kemp will be off-budget for now...with more to come. As ever, if the team gets a cap bonus of $35k each for leaving open the last 2 slots of the 30-man roster. United was keen to get the bonus last year, but with all the allocation money this year, that probably isn't a big concern.

Did I leave anything out?

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