Few will be surprised to hear that Major League Soccer salaries can't rival the minimum incomes in professional hockey, baseball, basketball and football.
Multi-million-dollar deals like those offered to Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan -- two of the most recognizable soccer players in American history -- pale in comparison with the top-ranking deals in the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL.
But Donovan and Dempsey are extremely privileged compared to the incomes of their MLS peers. According to a report in The New York Times, many members of Major League Soccer have to scrape together a variety of odd jobs and economic opportunities to make ends meet given their modest salaries.
While some qualify for affordable housing programs, others have part-time jobs they work to bring in extra money. Others live with roommates -- more out of necessity than choice.
Annual salaries for players can reach as low as $36,500 -- the minimum for players under 25 years of age. That salary isn't exactly leaving players destitute, but it can be tough to live on nonetheless -- particularly given the time commitment required of being a professional athlete.
Keep in mind that these incomes only last until players hit their mid-30s -- if they're good enough to have that long of a career. After that, they're forced to find another profession where they can earn a living.
For some context on those salaries, here are the MLS minimum earnings compared to the median salaries of other professions in the United States (all numbers according to Payscale.com):
- Casino manager: $66,200
- Gas plant operator: $63,680
- Bank manager: $55,889
- Senior MLS player: 48,500
- Police officer: $47,642
- Carpenter: $45,315
- Elementary school teacher: $40,882
- Graphic Designer: $39,186
- Entry-level accountant: $38,380
- Under-25 MLS minimum: $36,500
- Administrative assistant: $35,629
Only 23 of Major League Soccer's 572 players make more than the NHL's minimum salary of $550,000.
One-third of the league's entire salary budget to just seven players.
Of course, if MLS is using the U.S. economy as its model, it looks like it has things just how it wants.