Atlanta United has a few bargains on its roster

After looking through the salary database released by the Major League Soccer Players Association on Tuesday, it appears that Atlanta United may have signed some of the better bargains in MLS.

Leading the way is Marcelino Moreno. For $460,000 in guaranteed compensation, he has two goals, four assists and a team-leading four Big Chances created.

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Compare his pay and production with the highest-paid player in MLS, Xherdan Shaqiri, who for more than $8 million has two goals and three assists for Chicago.

For all the criticism that Moreno has gotten from me, his production compared with his pay, he has been a shrewd signing by club Vice President Carlos Bocanegra.

In fact, Moreno has outproduced most of the league’s highest-paid players.

Miami’s Gonzalo Higuain, for almost $6 million, has two goals and one assist.

Toronto’s Alejandro Pozuelo, for $4.7 million, has two goals and four assists.

New England’s Jozy Altidore, for $4.3 million, has one goal.

Teammate Josef Martinez, for $4.1 million, has two goals and two assists.

You get the idea.

Moreno isn’t the only bargain among the team’s typical starting 11.

Ronaldo Cisneros, for $240,000, has four goals. He’s five off leader Jesus Ferreira ($1.5 million) despite playing in five fewer games.

Andrew Gutman, for $331,250, has started 11 games. Though he has yet to post a goal or assist, it’s not for a lack of trying. He can consider himself unlucky to not have a few in each category. Compare his consistency with some of the left backs who are considered among the best in MLS and, while it’s not a wash, it’s not a washout, either.

Philadelphia’s Kai Wagner, for $581,000, has four assists.

Portland’s Claudio Bravo, for $323,310, has no goals or assists.

LAFC’s Ryan Hollingshead, for $393,750, has three goals and no assists.

The acquisition of Gutman was another shrewd move by Atlanta United’s front office. He was acquired before the 2021 season from Celtic in anticipation of George Bello eventually being sold. Gutman spent last season with Red Bulls before his loan was recalled for this season. Bello was, in fact, sold.

Flipping the lens around, who are the players that Atlanta United is overpaying based upon this season’s production?

The first would be Martinez, though it’s not his fault. He is the team’s highest-paid player, a deserved reward for his 50 goals scored in 2017 and ‘18, with an MLS Cup. Because of a knee injury suffered in the first league game of the 2020 season, Martinez hasn’t been the same, with 14 goals in 30 appearances the past three seasons. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in April to try to clean up the knee, which may help him regain his explosiveness, and rejoined the team for training Tuesday after missing the previous six weeks.

Another player with a big paycheck ($657,143) but not a lot of minutes is Emerson Hyndman, but, again, it’s not his fault. Like Martinez, Hyndman suffered a knee injury. His happened last summer. He has steadily worked his way back and has four appearances totaling 66 minutes this season.

It would be remiss of me not to mention Ezequiel Barco, who is scheduled to make $2.2 million this season. It’s unknown how much of his salary is being paid by Atlanta United and how much is being paid by River Plate, where he was sent on loan before the season. Barco has three goals and two assists in 14 appearances for River Plate in all competitions.

Erik Lopez is another player making a good bit of money ($528,300) but who is on loan away from Atlanta United. As with Barco, it’s unknown how much of his salary Atlanta United is paying and how much is being paid by Argentina’s Banfield, which acquired him on loan before the season. He has yet to score in 10 appearances for Banfield.

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs. Miami, 3 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

Aug. 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE