Vela edged out Mexican compatriot Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez of the LA Galaxy for the top spot. While Hernandez had a base salary of $6m compared to Vela's $4.5m, the LAFC striker won out based on greater guaranteed bonuses, marketing bonuses and agent's fees which are included in the calculations and annualized over the terms of a player's contract, including option years.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the salary report was the first to take place since September of 2019, with the data current as of the April 15 roster compliance date. The report is also the first since the two sides agreed on a series of Collective Bargaining Agreements with the latest revision taking place in February of this year.
The MLSPA stated that the average base salary for senior roster non-Designated Players has doubled over the last five years, and is currently $398,725. This figure doesn't include players making the senior minimum ($81,375) or reserve minimum ($63,547) salaries.
The average guaranteed base compensation for the entire player pool is $423,232 up 2.72% from the September 2019 mark of $411,996. The median guaranteed base salary is $210,000. In a sign that the salaries of players at the bottom of the wage scale are improving, the league's median guaranteed base compensation was $210,000, up 17% from the September 2019 mark of $179,498.
In terms of team payroll based on guaranteed base compensation, Inter Miami's is the highest at $17.8m followed by Toronto at $17m. The LA Galaxy ($16.8m), Atlanta United ($16.1m) and FC Cincinnati ($15.5m) completed the top five. The Vancouver Whitecaps had the lowest payroll at $8.7m followed by Austin FC ($9.1m), the Philadelphia Union ($9.3m), Houston Dynamo FC ($9.5m) and the Colorado Rapids ($10.1m).