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Dropping Dollars: The 10 Worst Values in MLS

The 2012 Major League Soccer season is done and dusted. In the first of a two-part series, Jon Arnold takes a look at the men who didn't come close to earning their high salaries.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
December 13, 2012
9:54 AM
Good value. It’s a term used in various contexts in the world of soccer, but at its very base it refers to getting more than what you paid for something or someone. By nature, there are also plenty of bad values. Unfortunately for Benny Feilhaber, his trade got us thinking about poor MLS values. With the offseason bringing the Feilhaber trade and a flurry of other transactions, we decided to take a look at the best and worst values of the 2012 MLS season.

Salary numbers come from the MLS players union, which releases both a base salary number and a number that includes that base plus any guaranteed bonuses annualized over the duration of that player’s contract. We’ve used the latter.

Today, we run down the 10 worst values of the 2012 Major League Soccer season. But before we get to the good stuff, the Dishonorable Mention list:

Bobby Convey ($215,000); Marvell Wynne ($326,667); Laurent Courtois ($120,000), Toronto FC’s center backs (Darren O’Dea at $436,250, Richard Eckersley at $390,000); and Dilly Duka ($243,000)

10. Edson Buddle—LA Galaxy, $225,000
Buddle’s return to the league in the offseason was heralded as a move that would help the team make another MLS Cup run. Well, they made the run, but Buddle didn’t have too much to do with it, scoring three times in 19 appearances.

9. Brian Ching—Houston Dynamo, $236,000
Ching’s age has left him as an option strictly off the bench. He was able to get an important goal or two for the Dynamo, but that’s a lot of cash for the occasional tally even with his veteran leadership taken into account.

8. Branko Boskovic—DC United, $242,340
Boskovic signed a new deal in the summer just after he showed a few weeks of promise. Unfortunately for DC United, he faded down the stretch and the club ended up relying on younger—and cheaper—players to pick up the slack.

7. Freddy Adu—Philadelphia Union, $519,000
You were all expecting it, and here’s Freddy Adu. His 2012 wasn’t as bad as many detractors will make it out to be, but it also wasn’t worth $519,000 by any means.

6. Benny Feilhaber—New England Revolution, $446,000
Will Feilhaber’s change of scenery do him good? That remains to be seen. What’s known is that it didn’t work out in New England. The Revolution’s highest paid player didn’t contribute anything to the team in a lackluster return to MLS.

5. Kris Boyd—Portland Timbers, $1.5 million
If you’re the eighth-highest paid player in the league, and you’re a forward, you probably want to be among the top 25 goal scorers. It all started so well for the Timbers DP, scoring in his debut, but he struggled to find the back of the net consistently and fell victim to injury as the season closed.

4. Chad Barrett—LA Galaxy, $253,334
Barrett occasionally got into matches late and even had a goal and four assists. Yet, he was so extraneous that he ended up going on a bizarre loan during the season and transferring out of town. You’ll have to read our upcoming best/worst values of the Tippeligaen feature to find out what happened from there.

3. Juan Pablo Angel—Chivas USA, $600,000
Angel’s form dropped off astronomically from 2011 when he was a positive contributor to both of the league’s Los Angeles teams. He battled a concussion at the start of the year, ankle and leg issues at the end, and in between saw only spot duty as Chivas USA sputtered along. (That said, if he can help tutor Juan Agudelo he's worth every penny.)

2. Conor Casey—Colorado, $400,000
It’s easy to see why Casey wasn’t snatched up in the first round of the reentry draft. The forward had a 2012 marred by injury, but he still managed to be named to Oscar Pareja’s Starting XI 13 times. Yet Casey only had two goals and three assists in those appearances. The 31-year-old might have some gas left in the tank, but he’ll have to take a bit less in the bank for 2013.

1. Rafa Marquez—NYRB, $4.6 million
The third-highest player in the league was hardly on the field between calf and hamstring problems, international duty, and suspensions. When he was he was often a liability. He did throw in the occasional game that recalled the glory days that earned him such a lucrative contract, but far more frequent were the head-scratching moments.

Did we miss somebody? Who would make your list? Please let us know in the (new and improved) comments section below.

TOMORROW: The 10 Best Values in MLS.

Jon Arnold (@ArnoldcommaJon) is a freelance writer based in Phoenix and the co-host of MLS in 30 on NASN.TV.

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