Every single year, the Major League Soccer Players Union publicly releases salary information for every single player in the league. The information is eye-opening to fans of MLS as it allows them to see exactly what their favorite players are making as well as what their favorite teams are spending on wages. However, we don't deal much with MLS but that doesn't mean that there is not a vested interest in it.
Currently, there are three former Bolton Wanderers players plying their trade in Major League Soccer and a few more that have played in the league during the last few years. On top of that, Bolton Wanderers have two players that made their names in MLS and we'll be taking a look at the money they made Stateside ahead of their moves.
Nigel Reo-Coker (whose shirt now just reads "Reo C.") spent the whole of the 2011/12 season with Bolton and immediately jumped ship following the team's relegation. He spent much of 2012/13 searching for a new team and ended up spending a few months at Ipswich Town before hunting for a new team again. At the start of the current MLS season, he moved to Vancouver and there, he will make $237,362.50 for 2013.
Andy O'Brien had been with Vancouver since August 2012 following the end of his contract at Leeds United, a year after his Bolton Wanderers stay ended. After a slow start during the 2012 season, O'Brien has become ever-present during the current campaign for the Whitecaps. He will make $242,250 for 2013, or $5,000 more than Nigel Reo-Coker.
Donovan Ricketts joined Bolton as a 26-year-old in 2004, during the height of the Big Sam Allardyce era. Ricketts never made a first team appearance for Bolton and was off to Bradford City on loan almost immediately after signing. He would spend a further three years with the Bantams before returning to Jamaica. He would then move to LA Galaxy and that's where he really made a name for himself. He had a relatively short stay at the expansion Montreal Impact in 2012 before making a permanent switch to Portland, where he currently is. He will make $300,000 for 2013.
Julio Cesar, who had spent 2004/05 with Bolton and only made five appearances, had spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons with Sporting Kansas City. He was picked up by Toronto for this season but was dropped from the squad before ever playing a game. In 2012, he made $255,750.
What about former MLSers currently at Bolton Wanderers? There's two: Tim Ream and Stu Holden. Both players made a relative pitance during their time in Major League Soccer before moving to the Reebok stadium.
In 2009, prior to moving to Bolton that following winter, Stu Holden was making just $34,728.75 for the whole year at Houston Dynamo.
Two years later, it was Tim Ream's turn. In 2011, he made $62,625 for New York Red Bull. Both players are making a lot more than that now.
Once embedded in the starting line-up, Holden became one of M.L.S.'s top attacking midfielders and turned down numerous offers to renegotiate his four-year contract for a fairer sum. "I wanted to play out the deal and go to Europe and make it where people said I wouldn't be good enough." So he just kept cashing those small checks and renting out rooms in his townhouse to teammates who were even broker than him - one of them was making $11,000 a year ("I felt bad asking him for rent.") - while waiting for someone in England to come calling.
When his contract finally expired, Holden turned down a "good offer, one I thought about hard" from M.L.S. and left on a free transfer for a six-month trial with Bolton. They made him no promises. For three months, he didn't even dress. He got his first chance in a Carling Cup game against Tottenham in which the manager sat many of his starters. Bolton was hammered on the road, 4-0, but Holden played "unbelievably, out of my skin," he says.
The MLS salary list is an interesting exercise, especially when you compare these players' relative wages to theirr production while at Bolton. When you see what Donovan Ricketts is making in Major League Soccer or what Julio Cesar made compared to Stu's salary, it's a bit of a head-scratcher.