After two years of steady decline, the Galaxy's team payroll jumped 37% this season to $17.5 million, according to figures released Thursday by the MLS players union.
That ranks second only to defending league champion Toronto FC in terms of guaranteed compensation. Toronto's payroll is $26.1 million this season. The expansion Los Angeles Football Club ranks fifth at $13.432 million, a record for a first-year club.
Galaxy President Chris Klein said the increase in spending has, not surprisingly, paid off in improved performances on the field. In this year's CONCACAF Champions League, for example, MLS teams eliminated two Mexican teams in the quarterfinals of the same tournament for the first time.
"Certainly it's something that is propelling our league forward," he said. "Even something that is as simple as how our teams perform in Champions League…. and really doing quite well. That's a testament to overall spending in the league. "
Toronto also has the top two best-paid players in the league in forward Sebastian Giovinco ($7.11 million) and midfielder Michael Bradley ($6.5 million). LAFC's Carlos Vela ranks third with a guaranteed salary of $6.29 million, just ahead of Chicago's Bastian Schweinsteiger ($6.1 million) and the Galaxy's Giovani dos Santos ($6 million).
LAFC (6-2-1) has one other millionaire in forward Diego Rossi ($1.052 million) while the Galaxy (3-5-1) have four players after Dos Santos with a salary of seven figures: midfielders Jonathan dos Santos ($2 million) and Romain Alessandrini ($1.87 million), forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic ($1.5 million) and Jorgen Skjelvik, the league's top-paid defender at $1 million.
Forty-six players have salaries of at least $1 million, more than double the number at this time in 2016.
MLS has a team salary cap of $4.035 million but teams are allowed three designated-players exemptions. In addition, each team can use up to $4 million in allocation money provided by the league to pay down the salaries of other players, effectively doubling the cap.
According to figures compiled by Jonathan Tannenwald of The Philadelphia Inquirer, MLS teams will spend a record $249.6 million on salaries this season. The median compensation of $153,541 is also a record.