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MLS Players Association releases 2021 salary guide

A breakdown of the wage bill for the Colorado Rapids this season.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the MLS Players Association released every player’s 2021 salary. While the salary guide is typically made public annually, it didn’t happen last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means the 2021 release is our first chance to gauge the salaries of recent additions like Younes Namli and Nicolas Benezet.

The Colorado Rapids have always had a reputation for being a little cheap, and in 2021 they have the fifth-lowest total salary in the league, totaling $10.1 million. And while pinching pennies has backfired on the Rapids in the past, this season, it makes General Manager Padraig Smith and the rest of the Front Office look like geniuses, rolling out a serious Western Conference contender and spending $2.2 million below the league average.

The reason for the Rapids’ low payroll is in big part due to the fact the club only has one Designated Player, Younes Namli. Namli is the club’s highest earner, making about $1.3 million in guaranteed salary.

After Namli, the club has five more players above the maximum salary for a regular roster player, which is $612k. Kellyn Acosta is far and away the highest earner of the four, making $1.1 million in guaranteed salary. The other four, Jack Price, Diego Rubio, Nicolas Benezet, and Michael Barrios are all right around $650k.

Several players signed new contracts this offseason and got raises from the last salary release in 2019. Lalas Abubakar was earning $144k in 2019; now he’s up to $247k... still an absolute steal considering how well he’s performed in burgundy.

Auston Trusty and Jonathan Lewis both earned raises this offseason, as well, with Trusty going from $124k while with the Union in 2019 to $431k this season. Lewis was on $137k a year when he joined the Rapids, now he’s at $435k, another well-deserved raise for a young talent.

But perhaps the biggest raise belongs to star left back Sam Vines, who was making only $84,000 in 2019. After his new contract was signed this winter, Vines is up to $487k.

The most important wage cut belongs to Danny Wilson, who was the fifth-highest earner on the team in 2019 at $540k. Wilson has almost halved his wages, earning $288k this season.

Despite the Rapids’ astute cap management, they do have a few less-than-ideal contracts.

The first is Nicolas Benezet, who is making above the regular roster play threshold and taking up an International Roster Slot, but has yet to register a goal for the Rapids.

The only other notable roster mishap is MLS veteran Steven Beitashour, who is still yet to make an appearance for the Rapids, despite being paid $165k by the club.

With so few roster blunders, the Rapids have numerous contracts that look like absolute steals.

Here are my favorites:

Despite not making an appearance yet in 2021, Lalas Abubakar’s $247k wage in guaranteed compensation is a steal, while Keegan Rosenberry has been an ironman for the Rapids at right back. Making slightly below $300k, Rosenberry looks like another great contract.

But, by far the best salary-friendly belongs to young phenom Cole Bassett, who is still on his first contract’s wages of $119k.

The fact that the Rapids have built such a talented competitive team with the fifth-lowest payroll in the league speaks volumes, not only about the Rapids FO, but also the quality of coaching under Robin Fraser and his staff.

And, as the Rapids are on a three-game winning streak as we speak, there is so much room to add even more to this roster in the summer and beyond.

Here are all of the Burgundy Boys’ guaranteed salaries, which can also be found in the MLSPA Salary Guide:

  • Lalas Abubakar: $247,125
  • Kellyn Acosta: $1,115,000
  • Sebastian Anderson: $91,677
  • Michael Barrios: $650,000
  • Cole Bassett: $119,000
  • Steven Beitashour: $165,000
  • Nicolas Benezet: $650,000
  • Michael Edwards: $81,375
  • Kortne Ford: $140,000
  • Braian Galvan: $252,375
  • Matt Hundley: $104,000
  • Clint Irwin: $203,300
  • Jeremy Kelly: $85,444
  • Oliver Larraz: $63,547
  • Jonathan Lewis-$435,000
  • Philip Mayaka: $94,375
  • Nicolas Mezquida: $380,000
  • Drew Moor: $165,000
  • Younes Namli: $1,271,000
  • Jack Price: $655,625
  • Andre Rawls: $91,000
  • Abraham Rodriguez: $63,547
  • Keegan Rosenberry: $298,750
  • Diego Rubio: $629,583
  • Andre Shinyashiki: $130,000
  • Dantouma Toure: $78,165
  • Auston Trusty: $431,250
  • Sam Vines: $487,677
  • Will Vint: $63,547
  • Collen Warner: $81,375
  • Danny Wilson: $288,750
  • Darren Yapi: $74,380
  • William Yarbrough: $375,000

Any salaries that stand out to you?