Since I expect y'all are waiting for me to post something, I figure I ought to post a few words on D.C. United now that the MLS Player's Association has released its salary figures for 2014.
A quick review -- the union's numbers come with two figures: a base level and a guaranteed number. Sometimes the two figures are the same, but usually the guaranteed figure is higher. That's the one I have used for salary cap calculations, but the right number might be different.
The main takeaway -- if the guaranteed numbers are relevant, then the team is probably about $50,000 over the announced per team salary cap level of $3.1 million. Actually, the number could be higher than that, because I have not put in Chris Rolfe's salary in there, because Chicago is supposed to be paying a large chunk -- perhaps most of it. On the other hand however, this cap calculation doesn't taken into account any reduction for Pontius' big salary, which was covered by the so-called Retention Fund last year (and likely is this year, too). Based on the numbers, it appears that the team has filled 19 of the 20 allowed salary budget roster slots. If the team plans on using that final slot over the summer, they will need to dip into allocation funds.
Other points worth noting involve the continued high wages being invested in the back line. There are no real surprises there, actually -- except for one big one: Sean Franklin is guaranteed $298k, which is $50k more than the team was required to offer him under the rules for the first phase of the Re-Entry Draft. They did something similar a few years ago with
Joseph Ngwenya (he who shall not be named), who supposedly had other suitors abroad. That was hard to believe then, and it's similarly hard to understand why the team gave Franklin this unearned, unnecessary bump-up in wages. Also worth noting is that the back line continues to earn receive the big bucks. The starters (Jeff Parke, Bobby Boswell, Christian Fernandez and Franklin) are getting a combined $940,000. Throw in top reserves Nana Attakora, Chris Korb and Steve Birnbaum. and that's nearly $1.2 million -- almost 39% of the total cap.
Will this present a problem next year, when the team might want to bring in some more talent and maybe offer a raise to one or more of the team's goalies? I guess that will depend on what comes of the upcoming labor negotiations and whether the salary cap gets significantly increased. In years past, the cap has gone up to match the minimum 5% raise each veteran is supposed to get. If the team is going to retain some players like Bill Hamid and maybe Andrew Dykstra, they're going to have to find some cap room somewhere. They're also going to have to find room to carry the full freight for Chris Rolfe next year.
I am not sure what this says for the future of Conor Shanosky with DC United. His homegrown deal is ending this year. It seems he's already taken a major pay cut for his final year under that deal, down to a poverty level $35,000. Perhaps, the team can find a few dollars under the cap to hold on to him. On the other hand, it puts pressure on the veterans to perform this year, including the four starting defenders and Davy Arnaud, given what they're slated to earn in 2015.
Also, depending on his health and the true nature of his cap hit, we probably shouldn't be surprised if the team exposes Chris Pontius to the expansion draft in the coming offseason. I can see a few veterans who might not make the team's protected list.