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MLSPA releases Crew, MLS salary information for 2022 season

We review the Black & Gold’s offseason acquisitions and raises given out for the 2022 season.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Major League Soccer Players Association released its report of players’ salaries for the 2022 MLS season. Twice each year the MLSPA releases this salary information, giving fans a look at how various MLS teams spend their salary budget money.

Last year’s October release — the MLSPA did not provide salary releases in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — provided a glimpse at the few midseason acquisitions for the Columbus Crew during the 2021 season. This updated release shows how Columbus’ front office spent salary resources to address the disappointing 2021 season by adding multiple new players and bumping up the salary of some returning players.

It’s important to remember that these salaries from the players’ association are not always 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:

2022 Columbus Crew Salaries

First Name Last Name Team Name Position Base Salary ($) Total Compensation ($)
First Name Last Name Team Name Position Base Salary ($) Total Compensation ($)
Jake Morris Columbus Crew D 65,500 65,500
Isaiah Parente Columbus Crew M 66,724 70,724
Evan Bush Columbus Crew GK 84,000 84,000
Erik Hurtado Columbus Crew F 84,000 84,000
Brady Scott Columbus Crew GK 84,000 84,000
Sean Zawadzki Columbus Crew M 84,000 89,000
Will Sands Columbus Crew D 84,000 90,250
Patrick Schulte Columbus Crew GK 84,000 96,431
Miguel Berry Columbus Crew F 120,000 120,000
Jalil Anibaba Columbus Crew D 150,000 150,000
Aidan Morris Columbus Crew M 170,000 172,000
Derrick Etienne Columbus Crew M 175,000 175,000
Marlon Hairston Columbus Crew M-D 175,000 175,000
Josh Williams Columbus Crew D 325,000 325,000
Perry Kitchen Columbus Crew M 300,000 326,667
James Igbekeme Columbus Crew M 315,000 408,281
Luis Díaz Columbus Crew M 375,000 408,900
Alexandru Matan Columbus Crew M 425,000 458,250
Artur Columbus Crew M 564,000 615,633
Steven Moreira Columbus Crew D 550,000 632,708
Yaw Yeboah Columbus Crew M 600,000 663,750
Pedro Santos Columbus Crew D 625,000 687,500
Kevin Molino Columbus Crew M 700,348 700,348
Miloš Degenek Columbus Crew D 715,000 812,000
Eloy Room Columbus Crew GK 800,000 883,000
Jonathan Mensah Columbus Crew D 1,000,000 1,140,667
Darlington Nagbe Columbus Crew M 1,760,000 1,760,000
Lucas Zelarayán Columbus Crew M 3,100,000 3,700,000

In total, the Black & Gold signed nine new players during the offseason. Of those nine, the trio of center back Milos Degenek, winger Yaw Yeboah and midfielder James Igbekeme represent the most significant salary spend.

Degenek, acquired via free transfer, carries the highest reported salary of the new signings with base compensation of $715,000 and guaranteed compensation of $812,000. The Australian was brought in as a starting option beside Crew captain Jonathan Mensah, but has fallen out of favor as the season has progressed and Josh Williams has recovered from a preseason injury.

Yeboah was the Crew’s biggest, per transfer funds spent, acquisition of the offseason costing up to $2 million in transfer fees. Those fees are not represented in Yeboah’s salary on this MLSPA release but are included in his budget charge for compliance with the MLS salary cap. Yeboah was acquired using Targeted Allocation Money and will earn $600,000 in base compensation and $663,750 in guaranteed compensation during the 2022 season.

Igbekeme joined the Black & Gold on loan from Real Zaragoza in the Spanish Segunda, though there is an option to buy following the expiration of the loan in December. In 2022, Igbekeme will earn $315,000 in base compensation and $408,281 in guaranteed compensation. After starting the season as a depth substitute, the versatile Nigerian has earned more regular playing time as both a box-to-box midfielder and as a wide attacking option.

Goalkeeper Brady Scott, midfielder Sean Zawadzki, left back Will Sands and goalkeeper Patrick Schulte were all signed as depth players, each earning $84,000 in base salary during the 2022 season. All four have and will see time with Crew 2 throughout the year. Defender Jake Morris, brother to Crew homegrown midfielder Aidan Morris, joined at the league minimum salary of $65,000 and will also spend time with Crew 2. Veteran MLS defender Jalil Anibaba was the final new signing of the offseason and will earn both base and guaranteed compensation of $150,000.

Salary spend was not limited to new acquisitions during the offseason, with multiple returning players seeing pay bumps. The most significant bumps comes for goalkeeper Eloy Room and playmaker Lucas Zelarayan. Room’s new deal sees him become the highest-paid goalkeeper in MLS with a base compensation of $800,000 and guaranteed compensation of $883,000. Meanwhile, Zelarayan’s new Designated Player contract sees his salary nearly double, netting the 2020 MLS Cup MVP $3,100,000 in base compensation and $3,700,000 in guaranteed compensation. Forward Miguel Berry and winger Derrick Etienne both received pay increases of about $50,000, with Berry bringing in a new base and guaranteed compensation of $120,000 and Etienne now earning $175,000.

On the other end, some returning players were brought back on new deals that see their salaries decrease for the 2022 season. Goalkeeper Evan Bush and forward Erik Hurtado, both acquired in 2021 via trades, signed new deals each totaling $84,000 in base and guaranteed compensation. These deals represent significant decreases from their 2021 contracts worth $376,000 and more than $218,182 in base compensation respectively. Left back Pedro Santos was also brought back on a new deal and sees his compensation move from more than $800,000 in base and guaranteed compensation in 2021 to $625,000 in base compensation and $687,500 in guaranteed compensation in 2022.

Two additional names that stand out from the MLSPA’s salary release are Kevin Molino and Perry Kitchen. Neither of these MLS veterans has played for Columbus in 2022 and together earn more than $1 million in salary.

The Black & Gold’s total wage bill sits about $700,000 higher than in the 2021 season, which is good for 10th in MLS, just ahead of LAFC, FC Cincinnati, and Austin FC. (Note: This amount does not include transfer fees spent.)

Outside Columbus, not much has changed from 2021 but the league does have a new highest-paid player in the Chicago Fire’s Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss attacker will earn a base salary of $7,350,000 and guaranteed compensation of $8,153,000, but will only hold onto the title of highest-paid MLS player until Lorenzo Insigne and his $15 million per year salary debut for Toronto FC in the summer. Following Shaqiri is LA Galaxy forward Javier Hernandez with $6 million in base and guaranteed compensation, Inter Miami forward Gonzalo Higuain at $5.1 million base and $5,739,750 guaranteed compensation, TFC midfielder Alejenadro Pozuelo at $3.8 million in base and $4,693,000 guaranteed compensation and New England Revolution forward Jozy Altidore at $3,706,139 base and $4,264,963 guaranteed compensation. The Crew’s lone entrant into the top 10 of highest-paid MLS players is Zelarayan at ninth overall.