Evaluating total spend in MLS soccer is a bit tricky as most of it can be very murky waters to navigate. If looking at “guaranteed” salary only, the Crew actually spent less this year than last but slightly more than (their last playoff year) in 2011 .
Year : Guaranteed Salary
2011 : 3,513,860
2012 : 3,717,509
2013 : 3,617,001
Now that I’ve been tracking this for a few years I’ve found that the Crew keep things simple. They like their financial place in the league. They’ve never been one to overspend, nor one that is too terribly tight fisted. It’s a responsible roll the club likes to play.
This responsibility might not show in roster makeup, however.
Even though the Crew like to tout stability and consistency, the only regular starters from even the 2011 team are Chad Marshall, Eddie Gaven and Danny O’Rourke.
Andy Gruenebaum was on the 2011 squad but his $67k salary that year was that of a long time backup ‘keeper. He is now been a full time starter for two years and makes $94k. Others, like Aaron Horton, Justin Meram, Josh Williams, Bernardo Anor and Eric Gehrig were not regulars in 2011 and haven’t seen their salaries move too much.
In the offseason Crew President and GM Mark McCullers talked about retaining a team core. In that interview he listed off a handful of players like Marshall and Gaven. But also, in the same breath, mentioned Higuain and Arrieta. Did they carry over? Yes. But should the be considered ‘core’ players?
Higuain and Arrieta have been in Columbus less than a year.
As a percentage of total wages; Chad Marshall, Eddie Gaven, Danny O’Rourke, Andy Gruenebaum, Aaron Horton, Justin Meram, Josh Williams, Bernardo Anor and Eric Gehrig have made up 27.2, 27.8 and 31.3% since 2011. There is your core. These are the guys that have been getting after it since 2011 (and beyond, for peanuts) and make up the inner mechanical workings of the club.
The Columbus Crew get a lot from this 30% wage spend. They are at Crew Stadium. Make mandatory appearances at local family friendly chain restaurants, signing autographs. Play in front of 40k in Seattle’s CenturyLink to reserve matches in Montclair, New Jersey - on Easter weekend in front of nobody. In Obetz. Every damn day.
2013 player salaries can be found HERE if you are interested (and HERE is an excellent look at at it from a top down, high level). Just keep in mind that most of the work is done by the guys towards the bottom of whatever salary list your looking at.
I’ve written about Crew moves in more detail before if you are interested..
More: Major League Soccer Players’ Union will release a couple more wage lists by the end of the year. One this summer and one around October. If you want my take on how that works out, go here: MLS Salaries, Efficiencies Drop the T.