It's the mandated maximum of about $1.6 million a year for the total salaries of the entire roster. But, of course, what is not broadcast around by the League is the fact that at times its hard cap is not completely hard, and the loopholes are beginning to cause some hard feelings between some teams in the League.
The not-so-secret secret around MLS is that some players are being paid more, and some well more, than the league maximum salary of about $236,000 a year. Everyone in the League knows who they are, the marquee players whose presence in the League adds stature and helps draw fans. Since these players are spread out among clubs there is not to much bickering about them.
The problem though, is how these players are treated as it pertains to the salary cap. In some cases a player’s total compensation package may be made up of salary, income from an endorsement contract or contracts arranged through the League, housing, cars, transportation and other cash and non-cash incentives. But what is becoming controversial is how these compensation packages are being treated vies-a-vie the salary cap.
Another cap inequity that has existed in the past, and which is bothering some GMs, is how players are treated who join teams after the season has started. In the past, teams who have acquired expensive players well into the season have not been required to make moves if the new player’s salary puts them over the cap. A roster spot may have to be opened, but a team can waive its least valuable player. The theory here seems to be the cap problem will catch up with the team the following season when it must re-sign the expensive new player.
Additionally, MLS is facing a cap question as in Walter Zenga, a man to both coach and play. So the question: how much of his salary should be counted against the cap? At one point, the Revolution in the Zenga excample were saying it would be an amount about equal to the League minimum (about $25,000). But given that Zenga will be making well more than the League maximum, this apparently didn’t fly.