May 18, 2023 - Sports

Austin FC salaries among MLS' highest

St. Louis City SC midfielder Jack Stroud stretches out to kick the ball away from Austin FC midfielder Sebastián Driussi during a February match. Photo: David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Even as Austin FC muddles through a disappointing season — a victory Wednesday night against Seattle was only its third win through 12 Major League Soccer games — its payroll now ranks among the highest in the league.

Driving the news: The MLS Players Association this week released its 2023 Spring-Summer Salary Guide, which contains annual base salary and annual guaranteed compensation data for the 869 players under contract with Major League Soccer, per the association.

What they're saying: "Visibility into player compensation across the league empowers MLS players and their agents to negotiate for wages that represent their true comparative market value," per the Players Association.

Of note: All data is as of April 30.

By the numbers: Austin's base payroll for 31 players is $16.6 million — or sixth in the league.

  • Austin's overall guaranteed salary payroll for the year — which includes base salaries and all signing and guaranteed bonuses annualized over the term of players' contract — is $19.9 million. By that measure, the team has the third highest payroll.

Nearly a quarter of Austin's base salary payroll goes to 27-year-old star midfielder Sebastián Driussi, whose base pay of $3.8 million is the seventh highest in the league.

  • The Argentine's guaranteed annualized salary ($6.02 million) is the league's fifth highest.

Between the lines: Driussi earned a new deal in February that included three guaranteed years through the end of the 2025 season, with an option for the 2026 season.

  • His 22 goals and 29 goal contributions during the 2022 regular season ranked second and third most in the league, respectively. He added three goals in three MLS Cup Playoff matches, leading the Verde to the Western Conference Final.

Yes, but: This season, Driussi, who has been out with an injury, has just two goals and one assist in nine MLS games.

Flashback: Austin finished last season 16-8-10.

Of note: Goalkeeper Brad Stuver, a fan favorite, also won a pay bump after last season, with a guaranteed compensation increase from $185,000 to $430,813, Capital City Soccer observes.

Zoom in: With other teams focused on shutting down Driussi, "not only is Austin's attack ineffective, it's also brutally boring to watch," Austin Chronicle soccer columnist Eric Goodman observed earlier this season.

What we're watching: Whether the six goals scored by Austin FC over its last four MLS matches — including a 2-1 win Wednesday night over the conference leader Seattle Sounders — mark a turning point for a club whose attacking had been ineffective.

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