With Bastian Schweinsteiger once again leading the way as one of the highest-paid players in the league, the Chicago Fire again have one of the higher payrolls in the league.
The German midfielder earned a pay raise from 2017, when he made $5.4 million. According to the MLS Players Association, which released player salaries Thursday, Schweinsteiger is now coming in at $6.1 million in total compensation. That places him fourth in the league, behind only Sebastian Giovinco ($7.116 million), Michael Bradley ($6.5 million) and Carlos Vela ($6.293 million).
As the numbers are listed, the Fire have a team payroll of $13.824 million. That means Schweinsteiger makes up just over 44 percent of the team’s payroll by himself.
The Fire’s payroll is up by about $800,000 from the last time the salaries were released. The six-figure salaries of David Accam ($820,938) and Juninho ($716,675) are off the books, but newcomer Aleksandar Katai is listed at $1.276 million.
Katai is with the Fire on loan through June 30. Katai theoretically has a shot to make Serbia’s World Cup roster, but he hasn’t played in a qualifier since 2016. Katai’s salary number and any negotiation to keep Katai for at least the rest of the season would require a significant investment of Targeted Allocation Money.
If the Fire are going to make a significant move in the summer (like the rumored interest in Fernando Torres or Iker Casillas), not keeping Katai would be the easiest way to free up both an international slot and some cap space.
After Schweinsteiger, Nemanja Nikolic has the biggest listed salary on the team. He is coming in at $1.906 million, eighth among forwards. Interestingly, that’s not a listed raise from last season despite winning the MLS Golden Boot last season.
Katai comes in third, followed by Dax McCarty ($712,500), Johan Kappelhof ($595,000) and the injured Michael de Leeuw ($589,213). Kappelhof ranks just inside the top 25 among defenders. McCarty got a $300,000 raise from what he was listed at last season.
Tony Tchani has the sixth-highest listed salary on the team at $353,333. He hasn’t played in the last four matches after being replaced by rookie Mo Adams in the lineup.
Sorting out the rookies
The Fire have had four rookies make starts this season. The top two in terms of appearances, Elliot Collier and Diego Campos, are both on the league minimum salary ($54,500). Both were drafted after the first round.
Adams, a Generation Adidas signing and the No. 10 pick in the draft, is the highest earner of the group at $125,000. No. 5 overall pick Jon Bakero is just over $100,000 and homegrown signing Grand Lillard is at $82,500.
Percentage-wise, the biggest raise on the team belongs to goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, who more than doubled his $65,000 from last year. The 24-year-old has started every game in goal this season and now is listed at $132,500.