By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - Ireland striker Robbie Keane has jumped straight on to the list of top five earners in Major League Soccer (MLS) headed by his LA Galaxy team-mate David Beckham, according to figures released by the league's players' union.
Keane joined the Galaxy from England Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur in August and has an annual salary of $2.9 million, instantly putting him in fourth spot in the MLS, above the best-paid American, his team-mate Landon Donovan, who earns $2.3 million.
Beckham, in the final year of his five-season deal, tops the list with a basic salary of $5.5 million, although he is guaranteed at least $6.5 million with the addition of bonuses and other payments.
Former France, Arsenal and Barcelona striker Thierry Henry, who plays for the New York Red Bulls, is the second top earner with a $5.0 million basic salary and $600,000 extra guaranteed payments.
Another Red Bulls player, Mexican defender Rafa Marquez, earns $4.6 million, making him the third best paid player in the league.
All the top earners are classified as 'designated players' with the bulk of their salary not counting against the team's salary cap. Donovan and Henry are currently the league's joint top scorers with ten goals each.
The bulk of MLS's salaries are well below the amounts paid in top European leagues such as in England, Italy and Spain however and are just a fraction of the amounts paid in North America's top four traditional pro sports.
U.S. international midfielder Brek Shea, who has 10 goals this season for Dallas, has a basic salary of just $100,000 with only $28,000 add-ons.
Beckham and Keane's L.A Galaxy team-mate, the 37-year-old Frankie Hejduk, who has been capped 85 times by the U.S., earns $96,000 this year.
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