Robbie Keane was yesterday revealed to be the fourth highest-paid player in America's Major League Soccer following his transfer to Los Angeles Galaxy. The 31-year-old Irish striker is being paid US$3.4m a year plus bonuses.

The identity of the two biggest earners is no surprise. David Beckham is on US$6.5m and Thierry Henry US$5.6m. Third is former Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez, whose Mexican nationality is as a big a drawcard as his time at Nou Camp. He earns US$4.6m.

The surprising aspect of Keane's salary is that he out-earns Galaxy team-mate Landon Donovan. America's most high-profile player picks up US$2.3m.

If these figures suggest MLS is a high-paying league, they are misleading. Only nine players earn more than $1m a year and the salaries are public knowledge, in part because that is a more common practice in American sport, but also because it is the players' union who release them to show their members are not rich.

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While Galaxy are able to pay Beckham, Keane and Donovan US$12.2m between them, most of the squad earn far less with the goalkeeper in their midweek Concacaf Champions League defeat, Josh Saunders, receiving only US$66,355 a year.

Galaxy's investment in a few highly-paid stars may be paying off as they have become the first team to clinch a place in the playoffs.

Beckham is having one of his better seasons, scoring twice and creating 12 goals (the league's second highest assist tally).

His profile remains high - last night he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

However, Seattle Sounders' US$42,000 a year for Mauro Rosales looks to be better value.

The Argentine has scored four goals and made seven with the Sounders on course for the play-offs and a place in the later stages of the Champions League.

- THE INDEPENDENT