HANOVER, N.J. – Kemar Lawrence turned heads during this summer’s Gold Cup, his tremendous free kick against Mexico sending Jamaica to the finals of the regional tournament. But it was his comments after the match that continues to resonate.
Lawrence, a standout left back for the Red Bulls, made comments during the tournament about how he feels that his fellow Jamaicans in MLS are overlooked by the league. He said that every player on the national team in this summer’s Gold Cup could play in the league and also added that he felt he is underpaid.
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On Wednesday following training, Lawrence was asked by Metro to clarify and expand his comments given just how much of a stir his remarks made.
The thoughtful left back provided some depth to his original remarks including noting that Jamaica has made the last two Gold Cup finals (losing both times, most recently to the United States).
“Look at the salary cap. Two times in a row we’ve been to the finals. First time we knocked out one of the top teams, the US. The second time we knocked out Mexico. If you take those players that are playing in MLS off those teams and compare it to our players – the gap is there. You can see the salary gap. It’s obvious, it’s there,” Lawrence said. “Who on my Jamaica team right now probably makes $400,000? You can go through the salary cap, probably not one player. It speaks for itself.”
The top paid Jamaicans do lag behind their compatriots from across the league.
The Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake, Jamaica’s starting goalkeeper throughout the Gold Cup and one of the top goalkeepers in the league, has a great argument for a raise as he is making $186,500 for his club team. For accuracy’s sake, he’s actually paid better than many other goalkeepers having a similar season such as Cody Cropper ($ 65,625.00) and Jack Gleeson ($115,166.67), neither of whom are on their respective national team.
Consider however that he is grossly underpaid when compared to the likes of Bill Hamid, part of the United States player pool who is very much his equal on the field but who earns $395,500 a season from D.C. United. Blake certainly has an argument for a bigger payday.
Field players from Jamaican in this league, well, is a different story.
Lawrence is earning $205,600 a year for being one of the top left backs in MLS. His argument about being underpaid resonates a bit given his form this year. He’s a bit of an outlier, though.
Others teammates from the Jamaican national team such as defenders Alvas Powell ($123,700) and Jermaine Taylor ($135,004); midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson ($155,666.67) and forward Darren Mattocks ($316,666.67) are all paid well but nowhere near the upper echelon of MLS salaries.
Part of the issue is that none of the players listed are superstars who sell merchandise or tickets for their respective teams. But all are certainly solid and contributors to MLS who are paid like average to above average players in the league.
The wages, however, aren’t those of superstars. Not one Jamaican is part of the MLS All-Star roster to take on Real Madrid on Wednesday night.
Lawrence, of course, is one of the best outside backs in MLS, perhaps the only one on the list who is truly underpaid given just how good his form has been for club and country this year.
He’s passionate about seeing his countrymen better represented on the wage bill around MLS.
“It is what it is. I don’t really front about it but some things need to be said. It is what it is. I’m not looking for it to change tomorrow but I’ll say it if it helps spark a change. If it sparks a change, if not it is what it is,” Lawrence said. “I’m still going to try and be the best player I possibly can be.”