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MLSPA releases updated Crew, MLS salary information for 2021 season

We review the Crew’s early and midseason additions in terms of what they make.

MLS: Inter Miami CF at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Major League Soccer Players Association released an updated report of players' salaries for the 2021 MLS season following the group’s report released in May. The MLSPA declined to release salaries in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the May 2021 release gave Columbus Crew fans their first glimpse at the salaries of the Black & Gold’s major 2020 acquisitions.

While Wednesday’s release does not show any changes in salary for the players rostered with the Crew in May, the updated release does provide a look at in-season acquisitions like right back Steven Moreira and central midfielder Liam Fraser as well as a glimpse at Columbus’ budget heading into the offseason.

It’s important to remember, these salaries might not be 100 percent accurate. The base compensation number represents the player’s yearly contract while the total compensation reflects an average of bonuses possible throughout the life of the contract. Additionally, these salary numbers do not reflect any transfer or acquisition fees that would be reflected in the player’s salary cap hit.

Here is a list of the Crew’s player salaries with new acquisitions in bold:

Updated 2021 Columbus Crew Player Salaries

First Name Last Name Team Name Position Base Salary Total Compensation
First Name Last Name Team Name Position Base Salary Total Compensation
Isaiah Parente Columbus Crew M $63,547 $67,547
Marlon Hairston Columbus Crew M-D $81,375 $81,375
Eric Dick Columbus Crew GK $85,444 $85,444
Miguel Berry Columbus Crew F $85,444 $85,444
Liam Fraser Columbus Crew M $89,513 $94,513
Aboubacar Keita Columbus Crew D $110,000 $110,000
Derrick Etienne Columbus Crew M $125,000 $125,000
Grant Lillard Columbus Crew D $125,000 $127,500
Saad Abdul-Salaam Columbus Crew D $125,000 $133,667
Aidan Morris Columbus Crew M $145,000 $147,000
Waylon Francis Columbus Crew D $220,000 $230,000
Erik Hurtado Columbus Crew F $218,182 $245,682
Perry Kitchen Columbus Crew M $275,000 $301,667
Josh Williams Columbus Crew D $300,000 $302,500
Harrison Afful Columbus Crew D $335,000 $365,000
Luis Diaz Columbus Crew M $350,004 $383,904
Milton Valenzuela Columbus Crew D $375,000 $406,300
Alexandru Matan Columbus Crew M $375,000 $408,250
Steven Moreira Columbus Crew D $350,000 $432,708
Evan Bush Columbus Crew GK $376,000 $438,667
Bradley Wright-Phillips Columbus Crew F $410,000 $475,750
Eloy Room Columbus Crew GK $425,004 $479,698
Vito Wormgoor Columbus Crew D $415,000 $492,875
Artur Lima Columbus Crew M $480,000 $513,633
Kevin Molino Columbus Crew M $667,000 $667,000
Pedro Santos Columbus Crew M $817,560 $864,560
Jonathan Mensah Columbus Crew D $1,000,000 $1,140,667
Gyasi Zardes Columbus Crew F $1,350,000 $1,400,000
Darlington Nagbe Columbus Crew M $1,710,000 $1,710,000
Lucas Zelarayan Columbus Crew M $1,620,000 $1,985,000

Columbus made four additions that were not on the previous salary release. Right back Saad Abdul-Salaam ($125,000) and Fraser ($89,513) were added to the roster before the May release but their salary information was not included. Both signings were depth pickups, although each has made a significant contribution to the Black & Gold this season.

Abdul-Salaam returned to his hometown club to rejoin his college manager Caleb Porter when it became clear that the team would not be able to add outside back reinforcements until later in the season. The Gahanna native has seen time on both sides of the defense though much of his work has come on the right.

Fraser has been a valuable addition as a defensive midfielder in a season that has seen absences from Artur, Aidan Morris and Marlon Hairston. As the season has progressed, Fraser has looked more comfortable in Porter’s system while also earning call-ups to one of the best Canadian Men’s National Team rosters in recent history. Fraser is on loan from Toronto FC but the Crew has an option to buy his contract at the end of the season.

Attacker Erik Hurtado ($218,182) was acquired for $200,000 in General Allocation Money following Gyasi Zardes’ injury at the end of July. Unfortunately for Hurtado, his debut came at the same time, in the same match, that forward Miguel Berry announced his presence. Hurtado has not been able to find his footing with Columbus and is still waiting to score his first goal with the team.

Moreira, a free agent at the time of his acquisition, was the final addition to the Black & Gold roster during the 2021 MLS Season. With a listed salary of $350,000 and a total compensation of $432,708, Moreira is getting paid like an MLS starter. Moreira has only played in three matches for the Crew, so it’s too early to determine whether president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has found Harrison Afful’s permanent replacement, but his salary certainly looks the part.

As the season winds to a close, Columbus sits in 10th in the East with the seventh-highest wage bill in all of MLS.

For fans who have clamored to see an ownership group spend money, the Haslem and Edwards families are spending near the top of the middle tier in MLS teams. Unfortunately, extra spending has not brought success. Injuries have decimated a team that looked to have some of the best depth in the league. The MLSPA salary release does not tell us which contracts are ending or which have guaranteed increases making it difficult to breakdown the Black & Gold’s available funds for next season. The 2022 season’s salary cap will remain at $4.9 million and will leave the team with many difficult offseason decisions.

Elsewhere in MLS, Atlanta United’s newest acquisition, Luiz Araujo, joins the league as its fifth highest-paid player with a base salary of $3,600,000. Austin FC finally made a financial splash with the team’s acquisition of attacker Sebastian Driussi from Zenit. A designated player, Druissi will earn $2,571,420 in base salary and has contributed three goals and three assists in his 12 matches with Los Verde. Ake Loba, a name Crew fans will remember from his CONCACAF Champions League goal for Monterrey in Columbus, joined Eastern Conference rival Nashville SC on a significant transfer fee (reported to be $6.8 million) but at an affordable salary rate for a highly rated young player ($1,077,000). Loba has struggled to find the scoring touch in Nashville recording no goals in his 15 matches.