May 25, 2023 - News

Top 10 highest-paid Charlotte FC players

Charlotte FC's Karol Świderski (left) and Enzo Copetti stand on the field at Bank of America Stadium during the 2023 season opener. Photo: Andy Weber/Axios

Charlotte FC's Karol Świderski (left) and Enzo Copetti. Photo: Andy Weber/Axios

Charlotte FC’s top 10 highest-paid players make roughly as much combined as the highest-paid player in the league.

Combine the top 10 highest salaries on Charlotte FC’s roster and you get $8.235 million in base salary and $8.9 million in guaranteed compensation, per the MLS Players Association salary guide.

  • Chicago Fire midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, one of the biggest names in Major League Soccer, makes $7.35 million in base compensation and $8.15 million in guaranteed compensation.

By the numbers: Charlotte FC ranks 20th out of Major League Soccer’s 29 clubs for guaranteed compensation.

  • Charlotte’s three designated players, forwards Karol Świderski, Kamil Józwiak and Enzo Copetti, combined make $4.3 million in base salary and $4.6 million in guaranteed compensation.
  • Świderski is the 23rd highest-paid player in the league. He makes $2.2 million in base salary and $2.258 million in guaranteed compensation.
Bar chart of the top 10 highest paid Charlotte FC players broken down by their base salary and total guaranteed compensation. Karol Świderski is the top earner at $2.3 million, followed by Kamil Jóźwiak at $1.2 million.Data: MLS Players Association; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios
The top 10 highest paid Charlotte FC players broken down by their base salary and total guaranteed compensation. Karol Świderski is the top earner at $2.3 million, followed by Kamil Jóźwiak at $1.2 million.Data: MLS Players Association; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Why it matters: Paying players a lot does not guarantee wins.

The intrigue: The league’s biggest spenders, Toronto FC and LA Galaxy, sit last in their respective conferences and Chicago is 14th in the East, just above Toronto. Meanwhile, St. Louis City SC is third in the West. The expansion side in its first season, has the second lowest base salary and guaranteed compensation.

  • Charlotte currently sits ninth in the East with a record of 5-6-3.

Driving the news: The MLS Players Association recently released its salary report, which includes a player’s base salary and guaranteed compensation as of April 30.

Yes, but: Charlotte FC sporting director Zoran Krneta tells Axios these numbers don’t present the full picture. They don’t account for transfer fees, how much a club spent to acquire a player.

  • Charlotte spent more than $15 million in transfer fees to acquire five of its top 10 highest paid players: Świderski, Józwiak, Copetti, midfielder Nuno Santos and goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina.
  • Forward Andre Shinyashiki and midfielder Justin Meram were acquired via trade, and midfielder Ashley Westwood as well as defenders Guzmán Corujo and Nathan Byrne were signed as free agents.
  • Charlotte, which is in its second season, intends to build the club slowly, Krneta says. They aren’t going after expensive players or spending most of their money on their designated players, who aren’t subject to standard MLS salary cap rules.

Of note: Midfielder Brandt Bronico and Shinyashiki signed new contracts with the club last season, and those came with significant raises. The contracts Charlotte inherited for these players were “undervalued” Krenta says.

Zoom out: Santos and Shinyashiki, who are the sixth and eighth highest paid players on the team respectively, have not played for the Charlotte FC since April 8. They are linked to a sexual assault case, as the Charlotte Ledger first reported.

  • Combined, their salaries add up to more than $1 million, which hurts the club’s salary cap.
  • “It’s something that is out of our control right now,” Krneta tells Axios, adding they’re working with the league to find the best possible solution.

The league has not responded to Axios’ request for a comment.

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