Last year, we looked at the top 10 players on the New York Red Bulls, in terms of salary, and determined if they were worth the salaries they were being paid. Given that we are two games away from the playoffs, it seems like a good time to do the same thing for 2014. All salaries listed are based on the numbers released by the MLS Player's Union on September 15, 2014.
NOTE: Saer Sene is #9 in terms of salary, but we will be skipping over him and focusing on players who have been with the team all year. The top 10 is based off of guaranteed compensation, not base salary.
#10 - Lloyd Sam - $136,500.00
30 Games Started
Lloyd Sam has been a fixture on the ride side of the midfield all year. His speed is something that's been missing since Dane Richards left the team. Unlike Richards though, Sam is willing to dribble the ball into the box, and he's good at crossing the ball in also. His 9 assists are probably a little low for a player who's big responsibility is getting the ball into the box, but that's more of a testament to the on the ball skill level this team has. It took a big portion of last year for Sam to convince Mike Petke that he deserved a spot, and now the Red Bulls are a better team because of Sam.
Verdict: Slightly Undervalued
#9 - Bobby Convey - $147,500.00
9 Games Started
Bobby Convey was supposed to be cover on the left for Roy Miller and Eric Alexander/Jonny Steele, and early in the season, he was with 5 straight games played & 4 starts. However, he wasn't what was expected. He failed to live up to what the Red Bulls needed from him. He traded starting time with Steele before the later was released so he could pursue another opportunity. He filled in for Miller until Ambroise Oyongo stepped up and earned the spot. He last appeared in an August 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire where he played 10 minutes as a substitute. A few weeks later, he went under the knife in to repair a deviated septum, and hasn't seen the field since. Most likely he won't be seen unless injuries to Oyongo, Miller, and Ruben Bover pop up, as that's the only way he'll be valuable to the team.
#8 - Roy Miller - $200,000.00
20 Games Started
Ever since his early season screw ups in 2013, Miller has been a solid starter at Left Back. 2014 has only continued his trend. The only downside to Roy Miller this year is that Costa Rica keeps wanting him to play with the national team. He missed time in June & July for Costa Rica's World Cup Quaterfinal run, despite not being the starting left back. The Red Bulls had to negotiate to keep Miller for the Group Stage of the 2014 Copa Centroamericana because of critical MLS matches during the time. The success of the back line will depend (in part) on how healthy Miller is and if the chemistry continues throughout the playoffs.
Verdict: Slightly Undervalued
#7 - Ibrahim Sekagya - $219,000.00
22 Games Started
Sekagya was one of two options brought in to try and replace Markus Holgersson (the other being Armando). At the beginning of the season, neither Sekagya nor Armando could partner up with Olave. Eventually Armando fell out of grace and Sekagya would eventually be Olave's partner. Once they got the chance to play together on a regular basis, Sekagya has shown what a good defender he can be. He's still prone to the occasional mental lapse, but he works well with Olave. Aside from a 4-0 performance against the LA Galaxy, the defense has been much better of late. They need to get some more shutouts going, but Sekagya and Olave clicking are a big part of the reason that the Red Bulls are making a late season run.
Verdict: Valued Correctly
#6 - Dax McCarty - $242,500.00
27 Games Started
Early in the year, it was revealed that McCarty was playing through injury. He underwent treatment around the beginning of June. Since then, he has seemed to step his game up. The switch to a 4-2-3-1 in the last few months has also highlights McCarty's biggest skill, his ability to play defense. Being partnered with Alexander has helped the team to better control the ball through the middle and has provided cover for the back line. McCarty has been one of the most valuable players since the Red Bulls traded for him in 2011.
#5 - Jamison Olave - $290,000.00
26 Games Started
Olave actually dropped on this list compared to last year, mainly because he's making less money. In 2013 the Red Bulls payed him $325,000, and at the time, I said that was a slight undervaluation. The Red Bulls must have signed him to a front loaded deal due to his health (he's only 33), and they got away with a steal in doing so. While he has had down moments this year, he is consistently the Red Bulls' best defender. Any early season hiccups can be attributed to the rotating cast of his center back partner. While he has seemed to lost a step, he still has enough speed to close down most forwards in the league. He probably should still be making over $300,000, but you can't argue about the price tag that the Red Bulls got him for this year.
#4 - Bradley Wright-Phillips - $372,500.00
27 Games Started
25 goals is a Red Bull/MetroStar single season record. Wright-Phillips is also 1 goal away from tying the record for a foreign player in MLS (26 - Mamadou Diallo, Stern John). There's nothing more that really needs to be said about him, but I'll let this tweet by Jon Gonzalez sum it up.
I would not disagree with anyone that if #Henry is gone, #BWP has to be a DP and the centerpiece to this team next season @RedBullRant— Jon Gonzalez (@Bonzi_Master) October 12, 2014
#3 - Richard Eckersley - $373,333.33
6 Games Started
Before we get into Eckersley, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the Red Bulls are supposedly not paying all of Eckersley's salary this year. I say supposedly because the non-transparent nature of MLS and player contracts. Empire of Soccer reported (back when the trade happened) that the Red Bull would only cover $100k-150k of the salary. That being said, it still has not been a worthwhile investment. He's had some good games recently, but overall has not been a good investment. He hasn't played a lot and when he did early in the season, he wasn't good. The money that Red Bull is paying could've went towards renewing the contract of a Markus Holgersson.
#2 - Tim Cahill - $3,625,000.00
17 Games Started
Tim Cahill was the team's leading goal scorer in 2013. This year he has barely maked the list of goal scorers. This year he seems more concerned about playing for his country (Australia) then he does the Red Bulls. He's played better for his country than for the Red Bulls. He missed time in June obviously for the World Cup, but he has appeared in friendlies for his nation since. Most controversially, he was gone for the recent FIFA dates (friendlies) and missed the crucial match against Toronto FC last week. What's worse is that he's going to miss next week's game because of a red card he picked up 2 weeks ago against Houston (when he played all of 3 minutes). Cahill's had a poor 2014 season, and the rumors of him leaving will only get louder if he doesn't finish off strong.
Verdict: Overvalued (this year)
#1 - Thierry Henry - $4,350,000.00
29 Games Started
The captain is supposed to be the leader on the field, and that's exactly what Thierry Henry is to the 2014 Red Bulls. His 14 assists is the most on the team, and he has assisted in more then 30% of the 25 goals scored by Wright-Phillips. His 10 goals is second on the team, and they have come mainly when they needed them the most. He's on track to play the most he has ever played for the Red Bulls, and is having his best season ever in MLS. The big question is will he retire or stick it out for one more year. While we all hope he has one more year in him, we at least have 2014.
Verdict: Valued Correctly
What do you think of my valuations? Let me know in the comments.