The Major League Soccer Players Association released its updated report of players’ salaries for the start of the 2023 MLS season following their prior report in October. This release gives fans a peak into the Columbus Crew’s offseason acquisitions as well as some of the raises given to players from last year’s team.
The league’s top and bottom five salary spends aren’t too surprising and Columbus, with a total salary spend at $16,060,111, sit at 12th overall in the league. Teams in slots five through 15 in the salary spend are separated by only about $5 million, a difference that is mostly a representation in how much each team is paying its Designated Players (DP). For example, the Black & Gold’s total DP salary spend is about $8.4 million which is a just $300,000 more than Xherdan Shaqiri’s $8.1 million salary that vaults the Chicago Fire’s total salary to sixth overall at $19,515,479.
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 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:
Columbus did not make any big splash additions in the offseason, instead focusing on improving the team’s depth. Former Aberdeen striker, and MLS veteran, Christian Ramirez represents the biggest offseason salary spend with a base compensation of $400,000 and a guaranteed compensation of $445,833. Ramirez has already contributed three league goals (in addition to two assists and a goal in the U.S. Open Cup) so this salary looks like a good bit of spending for a back-up striker with the ability to score goals in spot starts and off the bench.
Center back Gustavo Vallecilla, on loan from the Colorado Rapids, is the second-highest salary acquisition of the season with a base salary of $336,000 and a guaranteed compensation of $368,880. Left back Malte Amundsen was a recent acquisition picked up via trade after Will Sands’ season-ending injury and is the third-highest new salary on the team with a base compensation of $300,000 and a guaranteed compensation of $338,700. Another left wing back rounds out the top with Jimmy Medranda bringing in $300,000 in base salary and $331,250 in guaranteed compensation.
The remaining three new acquisitions all come from recent college graduates. Center back Philip Quinton was drafted by the Black & Gold in 2022 and signed to Crew 2 for that season. He is on a league-minimum deal, earning a base salary and guaranteed compensation of $67,360. This year’s SuperDraft pick Max Arfsten is also on a league minimum deal but earns a slightly higher guaranteed compensation of $69,205. Homegrown signing defense Keegan Hughes represents the final new acquisition for 2023 and earns $85,444 in both base salary and guaranteed compensation.
Midfielder Aidan Morris signed a contract extension in mid-April of this year but his total salary listed by the MLSPA is a comparatively small bump up from 2022 l, going from $170,000 to $200,000. His agent reported the new deal as a U22 Initiative signing but the current salary does not appear to reflect that.
DP forward Cucho Hernandez’s salary was revealed in the MLSPA’s October but it’s worth a second look. When Hernandez is scoring like he did in 2022, and like most assume he will as the season continues, his guaranteed compensation of $2.8 million is a great value. This salary is good for the 19th highest guaranteed compensation in the league and is lower than multiple players who have much less production. That evaluation will change if Hernandez doesn’t start putting shots on goal but based on potential and past performance this is a great deal for the Crew.
Elsewhere in the league the top-five highest earners look very similar to how they did at the end of 2022. Chicago midfielder Shaqiri has retaken the top spot with a base salary of $7.35 million and a guaranteed compensation of $8.15 million. Midfielder Lorenzo Insigne of Toronto FC comes in at second with a base salary and guaranteed compensation of $7.5 million. In total, the two players have combined for one goal and one assist in 13 total matches in the 2023 season.
Forward Chicharito Hernandez of the LA Galaxy is the third-highest paid player in MLS with a base salary of $6 million and a guaranteed compensation of $7.4 million. Toronto makes its second appearance with midfielder Federico Bernardeschi bringing in $3.125 million in base salary and $6.3 million in guaranteed compensation. Rounding out the top five is Austin FC attacked Sebastian Driussi who brings in $3.8 million in base salary and $6 million in guaranteed compensation.
None of the 2023 offseason signings, league wide, upended the current earnings rankings instead representing more modest, relatively speaking, salary outlays. The Portland Timbers’ new DP Evander will bring in a base salary of $1.85 million and a guaranteed compensation of $2.23 million. Atlanta United’s biggest offseason acquisition, DP Georgios Giakoumakis, will earn a base salary of $1.58 million and a guaranteed compensation of $1.7 million. St Louis CITY SC Roman Burki becomes MLS’s highest paid goalkeeper, by far, with a base salary of $1.5 million and a guaranteed compensation of $1.6 million.
The Crew and all of the team’s earners are back on the field Wednesday night, taking on the Galaxy at Lower.com Field. That game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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