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MLS, players at odds over pay

Times Staff Writer

Responding to criticism from the Major League Soccer Players Union over the low salaries paid to developmental players, Ivan Gazidis, the league’s deputy commissioner, Monday said it was the union itself that had agreed to those salaries.

“They were collectively bargained with the union, so it’s a little bit disingenuous for the union to disclaim ownership of those figures,” Gazidis said. “These are figures they agreed to in the context of an overall bargaining agreement.”

On Friday, much to the league’s displeasure, the MLSPU released the salaries of all 359 MLS players, with the annual paychecks ranging from David Beckham’s $6.5 million to the $12,900 earned by 57 developmental players.

Another 36 developmental players earn $17,700 a year.

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Those amounts, Gazidis said, are not out of line considering the amount of time the young players actually work -- perhaps three hours a day -- and the other options available to them to supplement their income through coaching, clinics, paid appearances and other outlets. “I’m not saying they make a lot of money,” he said. “I am saying it’s not quite as dire as the union says.

“The kinds of salaries that are being paid compare favorably with those in professional baseball’s minor leagues.”

The $12,900 figure breaks down to $1,075 per month, which is more than the $900 a month earned by Class-A baseball players, Gazidis said, while the $17,700 figure equates to $1,475 a month, close to the $1,625 earned by double-A players.

“The idea behind the developmental player system is for a young person coming out of college to have one year, or possibly two, to challenge themselves to make it as a professional soccer player in MLS,” Gazidis said. “We’re graduating a pretty significant number. It’s about 24 or 25 players over the first two years of the program. It includes guys like Chris Rolfe and Bobby Boswell and Heculez Gomez who really have established themselves as solid professionals and in one or two cases maybe even international prospects.”

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Rolfe, 24, of the Chicago Fire, now earns $74,700. Boswell, 24, the league’s defender of the year in 2006, makes $30,870. Gomez, 25, now with the Colorado Rapids, earns $49,350.

Public perception could impact the future of the program, Gazidis said.

“I guess if this were to become a significant public black eye to us we’d have to think about the status of developmental players and whether there’s a different way to do this by eliminating those slots and going back to the position we were in, which was to have senior roster positions only,” he said.

Gazidis doubted that would happen.

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--

GALAXY TONIGHT

vs. New York, 7:30

Event -- U.S. Open Cup qualifying.

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Site -- Home Depot Center.

Radio -- 1700, 830 (Spanish).

Records (in MLS play) -- Galaxy 1-1-1; Red Bulls 3-0-2.

Record vs. Red Bulls (2006) -- 1-1.

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Update -- The Galaxy has had 10 days without a match since its 3-1 win over Chivas USA but its only move has been to trade away defender Shavar Thomas. Defender Ian Russell returned to training Monday after a week off because of a calf injury. Five weeks into the MLS season, the Red Bulls are the only unbeaten team. They are coming off a dramatic 3-3 tie Saturday at Real Salt Lake, a game in which Clint Mathis got two goals and one assist for New York only to see his team tied after giving up two goals in the final two minutes.

grahame.jones@latimes.com


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