An incident at work this week harshly reminded me of the difference between perceived and actual value. In sports, this is something that, we as fans, are always talking about. Is a player over or underrated? Is he really worth the that $9 million transfer fee? So, given the incident at work, I decided to take a look at the top 10 paid New York Red Bulls players (to keep this from running too long) and if they are over or underpaid (in my opinion of course). So without further ado, let's start at number ten. Note: top 10 is based off of Guaranteed Compensation as of August 1st.
#10 - Lloyd Sam - $130,000.00
Stats: 18 GP, 5 GS, 588 Min, 39.2 Min/Game, 4 G, 1 A, 0.61 G/90
Lloyd's Goals/90 Mins is a little skewed since he's only had limited playing time due to injuries and spending a good part of the year in Mike Petke's doghouse. When he has been in the game though, he's shined. Sam currently has recorded a total of 6 shots (4 on goal), so he has a pretty good conversion rate when he takes his chances. Something you can't tell by his stat line is that Sam has speed. He was brought in last year to replace Dane Richards (who made $181,500 last year) on the right. His speed is something that Eric Alexander doesn't possess. While I would love to argue that he is undervalued based on his contributions and skill set, the fact that he hasn't played a lot this year means that his $130,000 is probably a little more than he should be paid this year.
Verdict: (Slightly) Overvalued
#9 - Fabian Espindola - $150,000.00
Stats: 26 GP, 21 GS, 1887 Min, 72.58 Min/Game, 8 G, 2 A, 0.38 G/90
Espindola is a weird player to wrap your head around. He started the year off with a flurry of goals but cooled off considerably after that. He was brought in specifically to partner with Henry, and was supposed to be a different player than Kenny Cooper. Unlike Cooper, he spends more time on the ball, but too much time. Yes, his eight goals is currently good for number two on the team leader board (with Cahill), but he hasn't made up Cooper's 14 goals from last year, as he was expected to. The emergence of Bradley Wright-Phillips (before his injury) has reduced Espindola to a bench player, and honestly, not the best option at that.
#8 - Ibrahim Sekagya - $158.999.96
Stats: 5 GP, 5 GS, 432 Min, 86.4 Min/Game, 0 G, 0 A, 0 G/90
It's hard to judge Sekagya on only 5 games played. He's done well on being a physical back line presence when Jamison Olave has been out due to injury. However, he can lose his cool, as evidenced by his 1 yellow and 1 red card, both of which led to opposition penalty kicks. Like I said, it's hard to judge on the small sample size, but given the stupid fouls/cards, it's hard to see him as worth the money being paid in 2013.
#7 - David Carney - $167,000.00
Stats: 4 GP, 4 GS, 360 Min, 90 Min/Game, 0 G, 0 A, 0 G/90
Like Sekagya, the small sample size doesn't help his valuation. He was brought in partially because of his partnership with Tim Cahill for the Australia national team. He's been used mainly in a defensive role although he could be used on the midfield wing if needed. Unlike Sekagya though, he hasn't given away stupid fouls that put his team in a bad spot. His problem is getting match fit since he hadn't played club soccer in a while before joining New York.
Verdict: To Be Determined
#6 - Markus Holgersson - $199.500.00
Stats: 28 GP, 28 GS, 2506 Min, 89.5 Min/Game, 0 G, 1 A, 0 G/90
Since coming to the Red Bulls in 2012, Holgersson has been arguably the most consistent player on the back line, in terms of performance and health. He had some growing pains last year getting used to MLS, and some more this year getting used to Mike Petke's system. Once he found his place under Petke, he's been an automatic starter, and one you could count on him to come through day in and day out. He doesn't produce on the offensive side of the ball, but that's not something to expect out a center back. Considering the price paid for Pearce and some other top level MLS center backs, Holgersson is a steal.
#5 - Dax McCarty - $222,500.00
Stats: 26 GP, 25 GS, 2222 Min, 85.46 Min/Game, 4 G, 3 A, 0.16 G/90
In 2011, New York traded away Tony Tchani and Danleigh Borman (remember them?) as well as a 2012 Draft Pick to Toronto FC for Dwayne De Rosario. Less than two months later, New York traded Rosario to D.C. United for McCarty. At the time, no one understood why a team would trade one of the most prolific scorers in MLS history. Nearly two and a half seasons later, Dax has proven why he was worth it. He hasn't scored more than 5 goals a season while playing for New York, but like Holgersson, that's not why he was brought in. Dax best shows his value as a Defensive Midfielder. His four goals and three assists this year, along with his focus on possession help him fit perfectly into Petke's scheme. Right now, New York is lucky as I could see almost any other team paying McCarty the league maximum.
#4 - Jamison Olave - $325,000.00
Stats: 26 GP, 24 GS, 2098 Min, 80.69 Min/Game, 4 G, 0 A, 0.17 G/90
Olave was brought in to be a rock in the back line, and when he is in the lineup, that's what he is. Him and Holgersson make a good pairing, with Holgersson being more of a finesse player compared to Olave. There isn't much more to say about the center back since he's been consistent for most of the year. His four goals are just the cherry on top for him.
Verdict: (Slightly) Undervalued
#3 - Heath Pearce - $340,736.00
Stats: 14 GP, 11 GS, 1083 Min, 77.36 Min/Game, 0 G, 2 A, 0 G/90
Pearce is the most expensive non-DP player on the Red Bulls almost making the league max ($368,750). His season was cut short this year due to injuries. However, his season wasn't a very good one before that. He had plenty of bad performances, and never found his spot in the lineup. There is almost nothing good that can be said about Pearce's performances this year. He has two assists, but they aren't anything memorable. He was worth his salary last year as he helped solidify the New York back line, but under Petke's "every position is up for grabs" coaching style, he grew frustrated, and played poorly.
#2 - Tim Cahill - $3,625,000.00 (Designated Player)
Stats: 23 GP, 23 GS, 1913 Min, 83.17 Min/Game, 8 G, 4 A, 0.38 G/90
Cahill's 8 goals is enough to be tied for #2 on the team with Espindola, with a specialty in headed goals. He's so good, his head has its own twitter account. Cahill has honestly had an up and down year though. Part of that can be attributed to injuries, especially ones inflicted by the opposing team. Like Henry is 2011, fans were waiting for Cahill to turn it on at the beginning of the year. Eventually he put it together and is one of the best goal scorers in MLS (when he can stay on the field).
Verdict: Valued Correctly
#1 - Thierry Henry - $4,350,000.00 (Designated Player)
Stats: 27 GP, 24 GS, 2250 Min, 83.3 Min/Game, 9 G, 8 A, 0.36 G/90
Henry is a special case. It's obvious that, most of the time, he playing around 75% of his potential, but can turn it on when he wants. It's a little frustrating at times, because when he doesn't play well, he has a tendency to start acting out. Luckily for him, he hasn't had an incident like he did in Kansas City in 2011, where he earned a red card before half time. His nine goals, and eight assists are both team highs. There really isn't much else to say, because Henry might be the most important player on the team.
Verdict: Valued Correctly
What are your thoughts on how the Red Bull players are valued? Who do you think is the most under and overvalued players? Let us know in the comments.