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Real Salt Lake 2014: 5 reasons Kyle Beckerman starts World Cup opener vs. Ghana

After putting in another solid performance as a holding midfielder for the US soccer team on Saturday, June 7 in its 2-1 win over Nigeria, Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman has proven he can not only play at the highest level--he can thrive there.

Here are some photos from the U.S.-Nigeria pre-World Cup 2014 friendly on Saturday, June 7.
Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Now comes the biggest test of his professional career as he and his American counterparts leave for World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Due in large part to Beckerman’s leadership in front of the US soccer team’s backline, the Americans were undefeated, going 3-0 in friendlies leading up to World Cup 2014.

Beckerman didn’t play in the opener vs. Azerbaijan--but he did enter the match against Turkey, a 2-0 victory and started Saturday’s win over Nigeria before being subbed out in the 72nd minute. What Beckerman’s two matches--and many qualifiers and friendlies before the Send-Off Series--have proven is that he belongs on the national team.

Here are five reasons Beckerman starts the World Cup 2014 opener against Ghana.

Formation

Because Klinsmann appears to have found the right combination of players in his 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-2-1 systems of play--which provides the US soccer team with two holding midfielders in one system, three in another and plenty of attacking options in both--Beckerman is a natural fit alongside Jermaine Jones as one of the two players in front of the US backline.

Michael Bradley

With Beckerman behind Bradley providing balance in front of the American back line of four players, Beckerman’s discipline and composure allows Bradley--and Jermaine Jones in a 4-2-3-1 formation--to venture forward looking for attacking opportunities. The same with Beckerman in the 4-3-2-1 the US used against Nigeria--where he was posited between Jones and Alejandro Bedoya.

Back line

The Americans back line is one of the most young and unproven at World Cup 2014. Other than DaMarcus Beasley, the US soccer team defense will not have one player who has ever played in a World Cup. Though Beckerman has never played at a World Cup himself, he does have 37 caps for the national team.

His coach

Jurgen Klinsmann has been a Beckerman fan from day one. His comments about Beckerman in his post-game press conference solidify his position that Beckerman’s specialty, which is “to protect his teammates and to run endless miles for his team,” is greatly appreciated.

Attitude

In sports, you root for guys like Beckerman who work hard and bring everything they’ve got. “For Wondo [Chris Wondolowski] and myself, this is a dream come true,” Beckerman said after Saturday’s win. “It’s something that we’ve always dreamed of, and when the door opened for us to get a chance to get in with the National Team we grabbed it. We ran through it and didn’t look back.”