By Joseph Lowery (@joeincleats)
The battle for a Western Conference playoff spot is an absolute dog fight. After Sporting Kansas City, who are currently sitting on top of the West, there is only a four point gap between second place and ninth place. LAFC, Portland, FC Dallas, Houston, Vancouver, LA Galaxy, Minnesota, and Real Salt Lake are all currently sitting together, cramped right in the middle. Out of all those teams, there is one particular organization doing some especially impressive things - on and off the field. In this week’s team breakdown, we are going to take a look at the Houston Dynamo. Houston has managed to do more with less than anybody else in Major League Soccer and people have started to take notice, especially after a very impressive result at home against New York City FC (believe it or not, this article was planned even before that 3-1 win). So, now that eyes are opening across the MLS landscape, we are going take a comprehensive look at just what exactly the Dynamo are doing well and how exactly they are doing it. In order to do so, we are going to start off the field and work our way on to it. Let’s start with the second half of the title.
Houston has the smallest total team salary in all Major League Soccer, at $5,673,471.63. Logically, they also have the lowest average salary in the league, with $195,636.95. The next closest team is Vancouver, whose average salary is $257,281.62. Looking around the league, we see that the next team down on the salary list, D.C. United, doles out more than a million more in salary than the Dynamo and Major League Soccer’s highest spending team, Toronto FC, spend over four times as much on their roster as Houston.
Star winger Alberth Elis (there will be more on him later, believe me) is the team’s highest paid player, making $650,340.00 in guaranteed compensation. That number is just high enough to put Elis inside the top 100 highest paid players in the league, at number 93. The Dynamo really do have Elis on a bargain contract, and just to really emphasize this point, not only does Elis get paid less than 92 other players, but one of those players is Brek Shea.
Outside of Elis, the Dynamo only have two other players in the top 200 in terms of guaranteed compensation: recently signed Swedish fullback Adam Lundqvist and attacking midfielder Tomas Martinez. But the bargain deals don’t stop there; most of Houston’s other key players are on team friendly contracts as well. In fact, all of the rest of the Dynamo’s players with 500+ minutes so far this year sit below the 200 mark:
- Midfielder Juan David Cabezas is 212th in MLS in terms of total compensation
- Left back Demarcus Beasley is 213th
- Midfielder Darwin Ceren is 216th
- Striker Mauro Manotas is 225th
- Midfielder Eric Alexander is 228th
- Winger Romell Quioto is 234th
- Fullback Adolfo Machado is 252nd
- Swiss army knife Andrew Wenger is 257th
- Center back Leonardo is 320th
- Center back Alejandro Fuenmayor is 415th
It’s painfully obvious from these numbers that the Houston Dynamo have built something special off the field. They have managed to put together the most cost effective, trim roster in Major League Soccer. Still, Houston isn’t just doing more than the rest of the league in the front office, they are doing more on the field too.