Chris Brown making $40k to play for Portland TimbersBy: Bob Kellett | March 10th, 2008
If you spot a Timbers fan on the street today youâ€™ll likely notice that they have an extra giddy in their giddy-up. Thatâ€™s because the teamâ€™s training camp has begun. That means a month of meaningless exhibitions played on grass pitches not at PGE Park, speculation about player moves and endless hours of sitting at the desk daydreaming about how weâ€™re going to win the league in 2008, even if we don’t know how and we don’t know when. The optimism of this time of year always makes me uneasy and unsettled.
It also means the proverbial player profile in The Oregonian. The cityâ€™s newspaper of record always does a profile at the start of training camp and almost every year it is a profile of a player with local ties (think two yearsâ€™ worth of Scott Benedetti profiles and last yearâ€™s one on Andrew Gregor). This year the target is Chris Brown, a local lad who played his high school ball at Jesuit and went on to have a nice career at the University of Portland playing with Gregor under the late, great Clive Charles.
There is a lot to like about todayâ€™s write up. Brown is happy to be back in his hometown, he still has some hunger and his new boss Gavin Wilkinson has laid out some realistic goal-scoring goals. Perhaps the most interesting nugget of information is this:
And home town stability overrides a pay cut, he said, of close to 50 percent. He earned a salary of $70,000 last year with Real Salt Lake, according to the MLS Players Union.
There has always been a mystery about what players in the USL First Division make (as well as great mystery about what professional bloggers make. Most bloggers aren’t in it for the dough. The hookers and the coke on the other hand…). The league does not release salary information so fans are mostly left to speculate. Now we have a better idea of what players on the upper end of the range (at least on the Timbers) make â€“ approximately $40,000 a year. Guys on the lower end? My understanding is that they can make as little as $500 a week over the course of a six-month season, so about $12,000 a year. Welcome to Burger King. May I take your order?
Why does this matter? Because right now two of the Timbers stalwarts from the 2007 season are on trial with the LA Galaxy. Keeper Josh Wicks and forward Bryan Jordan are both under contract with Portland. The Galaxy are rumored to be keen on keeping both of them. That means buying out contracts. Iâ€™m skeptical that either player is making what Brown makes, but letâ€™s say they are. That is $80,000. Is that more than the salary cap-limited Galaxy are willing to take on their payroll? Is a Beckham friendly, which will sell 19,000 seats at PGE Park and generate more than 80k in revenue, a fair exchange for letting two young, promising players walk away? Would Wicks and Jordan be willing to take a pay cut to join the glamor boys on their journey through MLS mediocrity?
These aren’t easy questions to answer. That’s why we haven’t seen an official announcement about them joining LA nor did we see an official announcement proclaiming their presence at PGE Park this morning — good thing since they are probably jet lagged as hell from being in Asia. From my perspective, the Timbers are in a desirable position in this situation. They have a couple of pieces another team wants. That team has deep pockets by US soccer standards, a marquee name on its roster and a general manager who is better at playing grunge music than he is at making player personnel decisions. It makes sense for the Timbers to hold out a little longer. Our season is still more than a month away, while LA has the impetus to act quicker. If the pot is sweet enough they’ll let Jordan and Wicks go. If it is not, they’ll be more than happy to have them in green and white in 2008. It is a win-win all the way around. That’s what makes me so nervous about all this.
Timbers Photo Credits: Allison Andrews/Soccer City USA