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What RSL players could earn for making 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs

Yet another entry in our MLS 101 educational series.

MLS Cup Trophy

With Real Salt Lake inching into the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, it’s worth visiting what the players stand to make in bonuses from the postseason.

This one is at the request of reader Holly Sterling. If you have a question or suggestion for something you’d like us to cover, let any of the soapbox staff know on the Soapbox Facebook page, Twitter or email.

MLS Playoffs - How much bonus money to players get?

We can’t answer the question as to exactly how much bonus money each player gets for being in the playoffs, since that is determined by team management. However there is some information that we can make some rough guesses.

The most recent MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement from 2015 does list some information.

  • The team that wins the MLS Cup receives $275,000.
  • The Runner up receives $80,000.
  • The Supporters Shield winners receive $130,000.
  • The other Conference Champion (not SS winner) receives $35,000.
  • The remaining teams that qualify for the playoffs get $20,000.
  • Lastly, teams get $7,500 for every regular season win (paid from the league bonus pool, payable either monthly or at the end of the season).

The CBA does not give directions on how the teams distribute the money, so it can be either equally, or proportionally at team discretion. For our example we’ll crunch the numbers by equal allocation.

RSL has 31 players currently listed on their roster, so here’s how much each player would earn as bonus for this season, given the above stipulation:

  • If RSL wins the MLS Cup the players would get $8,870.97 each.
  • If we make it to the cup, only to lose again; they get $2,580.65 each.
  • RSL didn’t win the Shield or regular season western conference championship so they can’t get anything for those.
  • Just for making the playoffs each of those 31 players would get $645.16.
  • And finally, if they didn’t get monthly bonuses for season wins; RSL’s 14 wins would equal a pool of $105,000, which likely would be given proportionally to all players with minutes; but if equally split it would be $3,387.10 each.

Beyond this there’s bonus money for the US Open Cup winners and runners up, plus CONCACAF Champions League qualification and participation; neither of which RSL achieved this season, so we’ll have to save that for another day.

Just for an unequal comparison, in the English Premier League, the last place team (West Bromwich Albion) received a bonus of $121,189,676.40, while Manchester City got $191,728,154.85 for winning the league (2017-18 team bonus using current market conversion amounts).

And if you’re wondering how MLS compares to its competitors in the US, here’s an article from last year which shows playoff bonus comparisons to other sports. The sad fact is that since MLS does not have the highly lucrative TV money that other sports get, bonus money lags far behind.