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MLSPA releases updated Crew, MLS salary information for 2022 season

We review the biggest midseason acquisitions in MLS and what they make.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Inter Miami CF Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Major League Soccer Players Association released its updated report of players’ salaries for the 2022 MLS season following the group’s report released in May. While Monday’s release does not show any changes in salary for the players rostered with by the Columbus Crew in May, the updated release does provide a look at in-season acquisitions, such as forward Cucho Hernandez.

It’s important to remember, these salaries might not be 100 percent accurate. The base salary number represents the player’s yearly contract while the guaranteed compensation reflects an average of bonuses possible throughout the life of the contract. So, the numbers present in this salary don’t necessarily reflect the actual salary cap hit or Designated Player (DP)/Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) qualifications of the players and also does not include transfer fees (which are taken into account for MLS salary cap compliance).

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

Updated 2022 Columbus Crew Player Salaries

First Name Last Name Team Name Position Base Salary ($) Guaranteed Compensation ($)
First Name Last Name Team Name Position Base Salary ($) Guaranteed Compensation ($)
Lucas Zelarayán Columbus Crew M 3,100,000 3,700,000
Cucho Hernandez Columbus Crew F 2,600,000 2,886,000
Darlington Nagbe Columbus Crew M 1,760,000 1,760,000
Jonathan Mensah Columbus Crew D 1,000,000 1,140,667
Eloy Room Columbus Crew GK 800,000 883,000
Miloš Degenek Columbus Crew D 715,000 812,000
Kevin Molino Columbus Crew M 700,348 700,348
Pedro Santos Columbus Crew D 625,000 687,500
Yaw Yeboah Columbus Crew M 600,000 663,750
Artur Columbus Crew M 564,000 615,633
Steven Moreira Columbus Crew D 550,000 632,708
Alexandru Matan Columbus Crew M 425,000 458,250
Luis Díaz Columbus Crew M 375,000 408,900
Josh Williams Columbus Crew D 325,000 325,000
James Igbekeme Columbus Crew M 315,000 408,281
Perry Kitchen Columbus Crew M 300,000 326,667
Derrick Etienne Columbus Crew M 175,000 175,000
Marlon Hairston Columbus Crew M-D 175,000 175,000
Aidan Morris Columbus Crew M 170,000 172,000
Jalil Anibaba Columbus Crew D 150,000 150,000
Evan Bush Columbus Crew GK 84,000 84,000
Erik Hurtado Columbus Crew F 84,000 84,000
Will Sands Columbus Crew D 84,000 90,250
Patrick Schulte Columbus Crew GK 84,000 96,431
Brady Scott Columbus Crew GK 84,000 84,000
Sean Zawadzki Columbus Crew M 84,000 89,000
Isaiah Parente Columbus Crew M 66,724 70,724
Mohamed Farsi Columbus Crew D 65,500 75,333
Jake Morris Columbus Crew D 65,500 65,500
Jacen Russell-Rowe Columbus Crew F 65,500 72,866

The Black & Gold only made three acquisitions in the second half of the season. Hernandez was acquired via transfer from Watford FC, while forward Jacen Russell-Rowe and defender Mohamed Farsi were signed to first-team contracts following their standout performances with Crew 2. Russell-Rowe and Farsi were loaned back to Crew 2 for much of the season but still were signed to official first-team contracts.

Hernandez’s splash transfer to Columbus represented the largest transfer fee paid in club history at a reported $10 million. The Colombian striker made a quick splash in MLS, scoring nine goals and contributing two assists in 16 matches. The MLSPA release gives a first look at the new DP’s salary with the Crew, $2,600,000 in base salary and $2,886,000 in guaranteed compensation. This salary outlay is the second highest pay for the Black & Gold, behind 2020 MLS Cup MVP Lucas Zelarayan at $3,100,000 in base salary and $3,700,000 in guaranteed compensation following his new contract signed at the end of the 2021 MLS season.

The remaining new signings are the Crew 2 duo of Russell-Rowe and Farsi. Both young signees earn a base salary of $65,500, while Farsi has a slightly higher guaranteed compensation at $75,333 to Russell-Rowe’s $72,866.

In total, Columbus has a wage bill of $17.9 million, which places the team eighth in total wage spend, one place ahead of the Seattle Sounders ($17 million) and one place behind the New England Revolution ($18.6 million). Toronto FC once again leads the league with a total bill of $32.2 million. The LA Galaxy is next at $27.3 million and Inter Miami is third with $24.2 million.

As many have noted, the salary structure of MLS renders this wage spend relatively meaningless. Toronto might spend nearly twice as much as the Crew, but more than $20 million of that compensation is paid to just two players who are permitted to be paid as much as the team would like while only counting for a small sum in the salary cap as DPs. Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded team, the Philadelphia Union, has the second smallest wage bill in all of MLS at $10.4 million.

Around the league, there have been some significant changes to the top 10 highest-paid players. Those changes have bumped Zelarayan (previously ninth in salary) outside of the top 10. Toronto’s Lorenzo Insigne becomes the highest-paid player in MLS with a base salary and guaranteed compensation of $14 million. Xherdan Shaqiri of the Chicago Fire drops to second with a base salary of $7,350,000 and a guaranteed compensation of $8,153,000 followed by Chicharito Hernandez in third at $6 million in base salary and $7,443,750 in guaranteed compensation.

Toronto has yet another top ten (fourth) earner in Federico Bernardeschi, a new signing who earns $3,125,000 in base salary and guaranteed compensation twice as high at $6,256,322. The Galaxy also makes a second appearance with Douglas Costa (fifth) bringing in $3 million in base salary and $5,800,000 in guaranteed compensation. Retiring Inter-Miami striker Gonzalo Higuain (sixth) is next with $5,100,000 in base salary and $5,793,750 in guaranteed compensation followed by Houston Dynamo’s newest signing Hector Herrerra in seventh with a base salary of $4,750,000 and guaranteed compensation of $5,246,875.

Inter Miami’s second entry on this list comes via a midseason trade acquisition with Toronto for Alejandro Pozuelo (eighth) who earns $3,800,000 in base salary and $4,693,000 in guaranteed compensation. Second-year Atlanta United winger Luiz Araujo is ninth at $3,600,000 in base salary and $4,480,333 in guaranteed compensation while on-loan USMNT veteran Jozy Altidore claims the 10th spot with $3,706,139 in base salary and $4,264,963 in guaranteed compensation.

There are a few big midseason acquisitions that sit just outside the top ten. Christian Benteke scored just once in his seven matches for D.C. United, but the former English Premier League star will bring in $4 million in base salary and a guaranteed compensation of $4,182,778. LA’s Riqui Puig was acquired from FC Barcelona using TAM and will earn $1,612,500 in base salary and $1,695,000 in guaranteed compensation. Puig’s base salary is at the exact limit allowable for TAM

LAFC did bring in two new Designated Players, but they aren’t the names you might be thinking. Denis Bouanga occupies a DP slot and earns $2,083,333 in both base salary and guaranteed compensation while Cristian Tello currently occupies the other new DP slot and earns $1,333,333 in base salary and $1,725,069 in guaranteed compensation. Somehow, LAFC was able to sign Giorgio Chiellini ($1 million base salary and $1,075,000 in guaranteed compensation) and Gareth Bale ($1,600,000 base salary $2,386,667 in guaranteed compensation) utilizing TAM. Bale’s guaranteed compensation sits outside the allowable pay for a TAM deal but, again, note that these salaries may not accurately reflect MLS’s salary numbers.