SAN JOSE -- Designated player Chris Wondolowski has a guaranteed contract of $650,000, the highest among the Earthquakes' 31 players, according to salary information released by the Major League Soccer Players Union.
But Wondolowski, who is trying to earn a spot on the U.S. World Cup team, remains one of MLS' biggest bargains. Although he has been one of the league's best goal scorers for four seasons, the Danville native is paid below market value -- well short of 12 players making seven-figure salaries.
In all, the Quakes have 16 players earning at least $100,000, and rank ninth among the 19 teams with an overall salary budget of $3.6 million. Wondolowski is the team's only so-called designated player, a special distinction that allows clubs to pay for big-name talent without busting the salary cap.
The figures released by the players union don't always represent an accurate picture of salaries because of the convoluted contract structure in MLS, according to general managers. The league -- and not the clubs -- own the players and finalize all contracts.
MLS does not disclose any salary information, meaning the union's bi-annual release of earnings is the only window into the league's spending practices.
The New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC have the three highest overall salaries, spending in the $9-million range, according to the figures. That is well above No. 4 Montreal at $4.373 million.
The Quakes are followed by Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City, last year's MLS Cup opponents. Chivas USA was listed as last at $2.328 million.
Seattle Sounders striker Clint Dempsey is the league's highest-paid player at $6.695 million in guaranteed compensation this season. Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley, like Dempsey, a U.S. national team star, is the second highest paid MLS player at $6.5 million. Toronto also is paying Englishman Jermain Defoe $6.18 million and Brazilian striker Gilberto $1.2 million.
The Los Angeles Galaxy also have three players making seven-figure salaries:
Landon Donovan at $4.583 million, Robbie Keane at $4.5 million and Omar Gonzalez at $1.25 million.
Former French star Thierry Henry of New York Red Bulls is listed at $4.35 million, while teammate Tim Cahill is making $3.625 million.
The others in the seven-figure club are Montreal's Marco DiVaio ($2.6 million), Seattle's Obafemi Martins ($1.753 million) and Vancouver's Pedro Morales ($1.411 million).
National team defender Clarence Goodson is the Quakes' second-highest paid player at $342,000, while newcomer Yannick Djalo, on loan from Portuguese club S.L. Benfica, is listed at $300,000.
Midfielder Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi of France is getting $240,000 while the team's third European acquisition this year, Andreas Gorlitz of Germany, is listed at $99,737.
Homegrown rookie Tommy Thompson is earning $145,000.
For the complete salary list: www.mlsplayers.org/salary_info.html.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.