He’s a dread locked demon on the soccer pitch, a demonstrative, emotional leader for Real Salt Lake who is about to experience his first World Cup in Brazil. But off the pitch, he’s a fun-loving, laid-back sort of dude who reminds you of Bob Marley--if Bob Marley had a white, 32-year-old brother from Maryland who loved the soccer culture as much as he loves his Rastafarian lifestyle.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman is that kind of guy for the US soccer team. He may have sat the bench on Tuesday, May 27 as his American counterparts won 2-0 over Azerbaijan in chilly San Francisco as the Eurasian opponents dropped all 11 players behind the ball--a position that Beckerman's club side has been up against on many occasions.
Beckerman knows how to unlock such a defense--so who knows how he would have done at Candlestick Park. In fact, we'll never know. So does RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, for that matter, but he sat the bench on Tuesday as well. Rimando's omission was more expected--but not Beckerman's, necessarily.
But sitting out this one game doesn’t mean Beckerman won’t see playing time against Turkey later this week as the U.S. continues to prepare for World Cup 2014 in Brazil. He will see the field, because what Beckerman does bring to the US soccer team is irreplaceable, frankly.
As the U.S. has continued to play in a diamond 4-4-2 formation over the past several games, it is the system with which Beckerman is most comfortable--having played in it for years at Real Salt Lake. And within this intricate, complex formation Beckerman and his club mates have won many games and lifted trophies--and you could even say catapulted Jason Kreis to his current position at New York City FC.
But, what makes Beckerman the odds-on favorite to start at least some matches at World Cup 2014 has more to do with what he does for Real Salt Lake today, not yesterday, to borrow an oft-used quote from U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. It also comes in his ability to play as a holding midfielder while Michael Bradley of Toronto FC--Beckerman’s likely mate in center midfield--goes into the attack.
The formation worked well against Mexico, resulting in a 2-0 halftime lead for the Americans. Without Beckerman in the lineup against Azerbaijan on Tuesday, you could even argue that the Americans looked shaky in the central midfield.
“It was tricky with the conditions but I think everyone did fine and did exactly what we’d hoped. We gave a lot of people playing time and overall it was a great way to round up a good two weeks. This whole thing has started now and we go to New York to get ready for Turkey,” Klinsmann said at the post-game press conference.
Beckerman may get some competition from Terrence Jones--who started in place of Beckerman against Azerbaijan. Jones is also likely to see some playing time as a holding, or defensive central midfielder going forward. But, Jones did nothing to warrant staying in the lineup over Beckerman, either. In fact, you could argue that Beckerman solidified his role in the US soccer team by not playing Tuesday.