COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus SC’s highest-paid player this year proved his worth in last season’s MLS Cup Final, scoring two goals in the team’s 3-0 championship win against Seattle.
Lucas Zelarayan is the Crew’s highest earner of 2021, according to the Major League Soccer Players Association’s release Thursday of salaries for every MLS player. The 28-year-old Argentine midfielder will make $1,985,000 in “base guaranteed compensation” this year.
That term “includes a player’s base salary and all signing and guaranteed bonuses annualized over the term of the player’s contract, including option years,” according to the MLSPA. But it does not include performance bonuses since they are not guaranteed.
Zelarayan does not have the highest base salary among Crew players, however. That would go to American midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who will earn $1,710,000 in base salary this year compared with Zelarayan’s $1,620,000.
The MLSPA has released player salaries every year since 2007. This year’s database is current to April 15. The 27 MLS team payrolls range from Inter Miami’s $17,803,479 in total guaranteed money to the Vancouver Whitecaps’ $8,699,229.
The Crew ranks eighth in guaranteed payroll at just under $13.5 million.
The MLS player with the highest base salary is the LA Galaxy’s Javier Hernandez. The 32-year-old Mexican forward with two stints in the English Premier League will earn at least $6 million this year.
The highest-paid MLS player, however, by guaranteed money is Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela. Vela, also a 32-year-old Mexican forward, will earn $6.3 million in base guaranteed compensation this year. That’s $1.8 million atop his base salary of $4.5 million.
The MLSPA lists 786 players in its salary database. Sixty-eight players earn the minimum MLS base salary of $63,547 a year (including Columbus midfielder Isaiah Parente). Thirty-five of those 68 earn no extra guaranteed money.
The average MLS player this year will earn $382,818 in base salary and $423,232 in guaranteed money. The average base salary for a Crew player is $330,978 and his average guaranteed money is $360,917.
Columbus is 1-1-2 this season and currently sits eighth in the Eastern Conference with five points. The team’s next match is Sunday at the New England Revolution in Foxboro, Massachusetts, on ESPN2 at 6 p.m.