Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

Philadelphia Union Spending Discussion: A Closer Look at Salary Update

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As the Philadelphia Union approach the end of their 2023 season and gear up for a potential run at the MLS Cup, a shadow looms over the organization. Public discussions about the team’s offseason plans have highlighted the ownership’s reluctance to invest in player salaries, raising concerns among fans.

A Reluctance to Spend

First, Kai Wagner took to social media to announce that he would not be returning to the Union next year. Reports suggest that the disagreement stems from a disagreement over Wagner’s value. Shortly after, a report from Tom Bogert revealed that Alejandro Bedoya, a key player for the Union, will also not be returning due to financial reasons.

Yesterday, the MLS Players Union released the year-end player salaries, shedding more light on the issue. It revealed that the Union’s player compensation ranks fifth to last in the league, with a total of $13.3 million in guaranteed compensation for 2023. In comparison, Miami’s total guaranteed compensation is $39.4 million, while Toronto FC’s is $32.3 million.

Frustrating Reality for Union Fans

The salary update paints a frustrating reality for Union fans. It is especially disheartening considering the talent of Ernst Tanner, who has proven his ability to build a competitive roster with limited resources. The question arises: What if Tanner had a few more million dollars to work with? Could that be enough to propel this talented team to the top?

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The frustration deepens when we consider the team’s approach to the transfer market. Looking at, it becomes evident that the Union have been selling players more than buying in recent seasons, resulting in significant profits for the owners. This raises concerns that the transfer fees are not being reinvested in strengthening the team.

Owners’ Perspective

The owners’ argument rests on the idea that MLS has not proven to be a pay-to-win league. Compared to other major soccer leagues, MLS has the lowest correlation between team wage bills and points in the standings. In other words, spending more money does not necessarily translate into better on-field performance.

From the owners’ perspective, there might be little incentive to invest heavily in player salaries when it seemingly does not impact the team’s success. However, for passionate Union fans, it is disheartening to see the team’s potential limited by financial constraints.

Should Kai Wagner be Paid More?

The recent salary data reveals that Kai Wagner’s base salary is $630,000, with $701,000 in guaranteed compensation. This already puts him ahead of other all-star fullbacks in the league. However, it is worth noting that Richie Laryea, a comparable player who recently transferred to the Vancouver Whitecaps, reportedly commands over $1.4 million.

The barrier between Wagner and the Union is likely the Designated Player (DP) issue. The current DP salary limit is $651,000, and Wagner’s requested compensation would exceed that threshold. While the Union can use General Allocation Money (GAM) to bring Wagner’s salary below the DP line, they may have other roster construction reasons that discourage them from taking that route.

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Why Must Bedoya Leave?

Alejandro Bedoya has been a cornerstone of the Union’s success and is widely recognized as the team’s leader. Despite being 37 years old and prone to injuries, Bedoya’s leadership skills are invaluable and hard to replace. Many would argue that paying $1 million for another season of Bedoya would be well worth it.

Unfortunately, with the Union already near the bottom of the league in terms of salary, they are set to lower their spending by more than 10% next year. This puts pressure on the ownership to reinvest the saved money and more to keep the Union competitive.


Q: Is MLS a pay-to-win league?

A: MLS has the lowest correlation between team wage bills and on-field performance compared to other major soccer leagues. Spending more money does not necessarily guarantee success in MLS.

Q: Why are the Union reluctant to spend more on player salaries?

A: The owners argue that spending more money does not significantly impact the team’s performance in MLS. They also point to the profitability of selling players and not reinvesting the transfer fees.


The salary update has brought the Philadelphia Union’s spending habits into the spotlight. While the ownership’s reluctance to spend money may be understandable from a certain perspective, it is disheartening for fans who see the team’s potential limited by financial constraints. As the Union strive for success, finding a balance between financial prudence and investing in the roster will be crucial.

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To stay updated on the latest news and information about the Philadelphia Union and other football teams, visit Pesstatsdatabase.